Should I buy my wife a Christmas Present?
Well yes of course, and that’s exactly what my heart said.
My head, however, was full of facts.
We’re both doing okay. We have enough stuff, and isn’t Christmas a time for giving to those less fortunate?
What I’d really like to do is give her a present and not have to deal with the stress of getting anything in return.
Unwrapping it, pretending I like it, then making an effort to use it is all too much for me.
Every present is a lie that once unwrapped, I have to tend to, like a bird with a piercing chirp, that I then have to keep alive until the giver dumps me or stops asking about it.
For this reason, whenever I’m dumped, there’s always a sliver of happiness, but I do want things with my wife to last, so I’d really prefer it if she gave me nothing.
If I get her something though, she’ll want to give me one in return, because that’s how presents work.
Which is why I find that whole charity gift thing so tempting.
You give someone a card that says instead of getting them a thing, because in your opinion they already have more than enough, you got a goat for someone else.
A few years ago I was temping in an office, doing barely less than breathing, and instead of getting everyone a gift, the boss bought an irrigation system for some Moldovans.
It wasn’t cheap, and we all knew they needed water more than we needed a cheap bottle of wine, but we all still got drunk after work, on cheap wine, and complained about how tight he was, then about how shallow we were for complaining.
This Christmas is the first with my new wife, and one of the toughest, because whatever happens is going to set up the precedent for years to come.
So what should I do?
Earlier this month, I decided to adopt an elephant, a whale and buy some school supplies for some village somewhere, all in her name.
Then yesterday I panicked and bought her earrings, because I’m not a complete idiot.
Since being married, the one thing I’ve learned, as I try to make this relationship last long enough that she can’t just get it annulled and run away, is that if I do all the things, even if I get it wrong, as I usually do, my wife usually appreciates the effort.
Still, the initial problem remains. I want to get her something, but not get anything in return.
I’ll just lie and say I’m not getting her anything, and hope she’s so taken with the trick that she won’t mind me playing it every year for the rest of our lives.
Now I do realize that my attitude runs contrary to everything we’re told by advertising, capitalism and the rest of it, but not science.
It’s a real true fact that’s been repeatedly proven through research, that our brains release more of the chemicals that make us happy when we give gifts, and not when we receive them.
So be selfish like me this Christmas and put yourself first, ask for nothing, and give as much as you can.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.
His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.