My husband and I are somewhat cultural Christians – that is, while we do not subscribe to Christianity as a religion, our families are mostly descended from Christians and therefore, we observe some of the cultural Christian festivals (especially the originally Pagan ones, where the Christian patina is particularly thin, as is the case with Christmas) in a secular, non-religious manner. After all – why waste an opportunity to party?
When we were first married, we tried very hard to maintain the ‘surprise’ element when exchanging Christmas presents, but with a little twist to ensure we both also got what we wanted: thus, we shopped separately and wrapped the presents separately. He’d buy his present and I’d buy mine…
This way, my husband would be surprised at what he got me and I would be surprised at what I got him!
But, as our kids got older, we wanted to engage them in the most fun part of gift giving – and decided to go a bit more traditional about the gift-purchasing vector. So, one day, we all got into the car, drove to the mall and split up: my husband and our older son went to buy my Christmas present and our younger son and I went to buy the Christmas present for my husband.
I had a most awesome plan.
In the previous week or two, I had noticed my hubby going through some electronics flyers and looking at phones – not cell phones, but nice wireless ones for the house. So, I paid more attention at what he had been looking at and very carefully (so as not to arouse his suspicion), I had asked some questions about what features he liked and so on – and I thought I knew just the perfect phone to get him.
Since the kids both understood that buying the present in secret was the funnest part of Christmas gift giving, we had to sneak into the phone store unseen. So, as my hubby and older son headed off to the coffee shop to fortify their stamina for the onslaught of shopping, we made a big show of heading to the luggage shop in a deft decoy move to make my hubby suspect we were getting him a new wallet.
Then, taking a shortcut through a shoe store, we made our way to the phone shop.
There was the phone I was sure would make the perfect present for my hubby!
But, as I reached for the box, I heard my older son’s voice!
Quickly grabbing my younger one’s hand, I told him to duck – we must not be seen or the surprise would be blown!!!
As we made it one shelf over, my older son exclaimed: ’Mom! What are you doing here?!?!?’
Luckily, his dad was not with him. He was a few shelves over. Thinking quickly on my feet, I pointed him out to our younger son and told him to quickly catch up to daddy while I went to pay for the phone. He rushed off, just about at the same time as the older one came up to me and started asking me if I had noticed the sunglasses in the kiosk just outside the phone store.
I did not understand his sudden interest in sunglasses – he had never been interested in them before. He was quite insistent, but there was no way he was going to deter me from paying for that phone and hiding it before my hubby could catch up to me!
I made it to the cash and lined up – just as my hubby also got there to pay….for the very same phone I was holding!
Apparently, he’d been leaving flyers around the house to see what I looked at and noticed I was asking about phones and cleverly deduced from the various clues exactly which phone I liked best!!!
Yet another instance of how Christmas shopping can indeed bring families together.