I look at him and ask, "All done with holiday shopping?"
He gives me a smile and a wink. "All except for one special person," he says. "How about you?"
"All done except for one," I sing-song back.
We smile awkwardly at each other and then there is silence. I look at him, he looks at me. I'm pretty sure we're thinking the same thing. There is only one way to find out.
"Listen, " I blurt out, "if I don't buy you a Christmas present will you swear not to buy me a Christmas present?
I have made this man unbelievably happy. "Oh my God, yes!" he says. Then he looks at me suspiciously. "You promise you won't buy me one?"
"I promise!" I say. Then I look at him suspiciously. "Do you promise?"
After about 20 minutes of back and forth promises we arrive at the point where we trust one another and it is settled. We won't buy gifts.
This is the best Christmas gift either of us has either given the other. In fact, it works so well we've moved it into birthdays, Valentine's Day, and anniversaries. We don't give each other gifts during any holiday. Period.
People (read: our families) think we're weird, but we love it. Frankly, if either of us needs a sweater all that bad, we'll go out and buy it ourselves. Instead, what we do is through the year we might give each other small gifts out of the blue, which mean more because they're spontaneously given and not wrapped with a bow just because the calendar says December 25th.
For example, once I was feeling depressed about my career, and I came home to find new pajamas, a new robe, perfume, and a CD I'd been wanting. It was a wonderful gift, all the more so because he didn't have to do it.
Trust me on this. The joy of moving through a birthday or anniversary without the pressure of "what should I get him/her?" brings a new joy to the day.
We were talking over breakfast this morning how much we enjoy our no-gift giving tradition and I had a great idea.
"Tell me what you would've bought me if we did give gifts," I said.
"Umm...I don't know. Maybe a sweater from Anne Taylor, and probably some jewelry," he said. "Maybe a gold necklace or something."
I glared at him. "I hardly ever wear gold anymore," I said. "Although you apparently haven't noticed."
"I hate this game," he said.
"No, no, it's fun!" I said. "Now it's my turn. I would have bought you...let's see..."
I was stumped. I couldn't think of anything he needed/wanted. Finally I thought of something.
"Silk boxers!" I said triumphantly.
"I hate silk boxers," he said.
"You're right," I agreed. "This is a stupid game."
So, in going with the "Why Aren't I In Charge" theme of this blog, may I recommend to all of you reading out there that you stop the gift-giving tradition to your spouse or significant other RIGHT NOW.
You'll thank me later.