The Worst Christmas Present ever….

In retrospect, it was the beginning of the end.

My Mom had just redecorated the house in these wanna-be southwestern colors.  It was bloody awful.  I remember thinking when I came home from college that someone had thrown a Pepto and Vick’s menthols all over the house.  She even had all of the woodwork painted this pink-ish.  Although it wasn’t pink.  It was Southwestern.  Whatever.  It was awful.  I’m not sure if my Dad went along with it or not, hard to tell, but there it was.

So for Christmas that year, he decided to help her enhance the decor.  I kept trying to tell him that even though his thoughts were in the right place, no red-blooded woman would want something like this as a Christmas gift:

Photo 1

Obviously not the same, but this is to give you an idea of what showed up under my Mom’s tree that year

Needless to say, she was upset.  And so was my Dad.  He had put a lot of thought (although I shudder to think of those thoughts) into that gift, but he, as usual, did not actually consider her wishes.  She had told him exactly what she wanted for Christmas that year (some sort of Calphalon set) and he went and did this. It was just another instance that demonstrated the total lack of communication that they had.  The following year, he bought her a car.  She wanted a car, specifically a mini-van.  He got her a two door Subaru instead.  They were divorced a few years later.

Spouse and I joke about the cow head.  It happened the year we started dating so it was some great conversation fodder.  But it was a telling sign of an unhealthy relationship.  Something I kept in mind when I was dating Spouse.  The present wasn’t bad because of what it was (although…) the present was bad because it showed how much they didn’t listen to each other any more.  It was an important lesson as I was deciding on whether or not some people would be a part of my future or not.  Spouse listens to me.  He always has.  And it makes all the difference in the world.

Merry Christmas, Spouse. You are the best present ever.

11 responses to “The Worst Christmas Present ever….

  1. It is funny; Steve comes home with these things that other women would be appalled at-gloves. A new coffeepot. Wool socks. A fishing reel. But I love it because those are things I want, and he hears that. And I don’t even usually have to tell him what I want, he just knows. This is a great reminder of how lucky I am, you know?

  2. Spouse? There’d better be a cello case under the tree this year. ;)
    Tom proposed at Christmas 15 years ago. My best Christmas gift ever.

  3. Oh that’s terrible! Probably couldn’t be returned either. But I have to say, if I were your Dad, I’d be pissed about the SW decor. Interesting how so much boils down to communication.

  4. That does sound like an awful present. But it makes for a fantastic example, and a very entertaining post.

    The car bit would make me really, fumingly, angry. A car is certainly something that should be chosen by the one who will be driving it.

    I’m glad that your own spouse is one who listens!

  5. Awww. He may be a good spouse, but you are, too, for recognizing and appreciating it. :o)

    I hope you guys have a lovely Christmas!

  6. Mel.

    I’m sad for your parents, but I love this story. It makes me so grateful for my spouse that I sometimes can’t see straight. :)

  7. margaret (the misanthrope)

    Yikes *shudder* I’m with Ellie – I couldn’t help but giggle a bit at your description of the house, then the piece de resistance of the cow’s head…but I absolutely see the sadness in it too. So happy that Spouse makes your day on a daily basis! Belated greetings to you!

  8. Oh…that’s funny (sorry). Don’t worry; I got the message, too, haha. My husband is SO good at listening to my hints and giving me thoughtful gifts at Christmas. This year, he gave me an electric can opener and a bottle opener–two things I’ve whined about all year. I love that man….

  9. Ah, the spouse who listens. No other presents needed, right?

    This awful cow skull gift reminds me of our wedding registry. We made the horrible mistake of suggesting to my northeastern shower attendees that our theme was southwestern. It was actually more texas-hodgepodge, but that wasn’t a choice on the little registration card.

    Omg, we got all kinds of crap — dream catchers and cowskulls and arrows and such. And there I was having to smile and say how much I loved each and everyone of those ugly things.

  10. I totally get this. My first Christmas with John, I was so incredibly touched because he got me things that I’d asked for, but also things that I loved but hadn’t even mentioned, because he had actually been listening to me when I talked, and noticed things that I liked. It was overwhelming, I was so NOT used to that from my previous marriage.

  11. Brilliant post. I can see some similarities to the down slide that happened in my own parent’s marriage (her gift was a velvet bull fighter painting– a woman who hated velvet paintings and hated violence). I’m afraid that because I am hyper-sensitive, I really jump on the hubby when I feel he’s not listening.

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