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:
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.