- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

For reasons I’ll never understand, when it comes to buying Christmas gifts for me, my family is perpetually stumped.

I don’t know how this is possible. It seems as if all you would need to do would be to follow me through the mall and take note of all the items I hold up, admire and then put back after checking the price tag. These would be the things I want but can’t quite justify buying (otherwise known as “the perfect gifts for mom”).

However, my family doesn’t follow me through the mall, so instead, with two weeks left until Christmas, they have started asking me what I want.

I’ve already had several conversations that go something like this:

“Mom, what do you want for Christmas?”

Me: “An uninterrupted night’s sleep and a bigger laundry room.”

“No really, what do you want?”

This is what I really want. I guess this means I’m not getting it. Oh well.

Me: “World peace.”

“Something we can wrap.”

Me: “A bagel slicer.” I’ve always wanted a bagel slicer. I heard once that slicing bagels is the cause of one of the most common kitchen injuries — sliced fingers — but no matter how often I mention this, I don’t get one.

The exchange about what I want is always followed with the pronouncement, “This is why you’re so hard to shop for,” and an exasperated retreat.

I’m not trying to be difficult. It’s just that I have this core belief that Christmas gift giving should reflect the insight of the gift giver into the heart of the recipient. Call me crazy, but I would like my family to know me well enough to choose gifts for me.

Somehow, the whole “what do you want for Christmas” interview seems to indicate otherwise.

At the very least, you’d think I could count on my husband to know for sure what I would like and to help direct the children thusly. But last year Jim took the children shopping and let them purchase a creme brulee kit, complete with a miniature blowtorch for caramelizing the sugar on top.

Never mind that creme brulee coats arteries and sticks to ones thighs like papier-mache. The bigger issue is that creme brulee is something you order when eating out in a fancy restaurant. I would never make it at home because that would mean I was not enjoying a fine dining experience.

Who eats creme brulee and then washes the dishes? No one. This is why a creme brulee kit was a bad gift (which I took back).

Same problem with the foot massager I got a few years ago. I kept it because I used it on the day after Christmas, but I realized right away this was a mistake. Why? Because you should never soak your feet in a foot-massaging machine unless there is someone sitting in front of you who is about to give you a pedicure.

Owning your own foot massager means you are giving yourself a pedicure. What would be the point of a pedicure if not to sit in a chair (which also has massaging devices built into it), reading a magazine and drinking a latte?

Otherwise, you’re twisting your arms and legs around like a contortionist trying to apply nail polish, which you certainly will smudge while emptying the home foot massager into the bathtub. Pointless.

Ditto for the cappuccino maker. I know lots of folks love their cappuccino and enjoy making it at home, and for this reason, my husband has twice presented me with deluxe java equipment. Being the frugal type, he can’t understand why anyone would pay $4 for a double-skim-caramel-latte-no-foam when amortized over the life of themachine, you’d be drinking it for free in a matter of weeks.

You can’t explain the problem to a man who doesn’t get pedicures. You just take it back (twice) and tell him you can’t justify a gift that’s so expensive.

Maybe it is hard to shop for me.

Because I’m certain no gift purchased for me was ever procured before the 24th of December, there are still 13 days in which I’ll probably be grilled until I produce some sort of wish list. So in case anyone in my family is reading this, I could use some socks and maybe a new pair of slippers. Not the big fuzzy kind — just a sensible pair of slippers I can wear around the house and out to the mailbox.

Actually, I wasn’t kidding about the other stuff.

I’d still like a bigger laundry room, but the longer I wait for that one, the closer I get to having fewer people for whom I do laundry. In a few years, I’ll have half as many pairs of jeans to wash and the space will open right up.

The uninterrupted night’s sleep? I gave up long ago, not that there’s anyone crying in the night for me anymore. Rather, I’ve concluded it’s a function of the maternal brain, always hovering on the edge of consciousness. The only way I know to achieve a solid night’s sleep is to have a cold and, therefore, a reason to take cold medicine.

World peace? Now there’s a gift worth tracking down, but sadly, it’s in short supply again this year.

I guess that leaves the possibility of a bagel slicer. It’s a long shot, I know, but if I finally get one I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Columnist Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 19 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. Visit her Web site (www.marybeth hicks.com) or send e-mail to marybeth.hicks@comcast.net.

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