Empty Boxes Anonymous 

This time of year I always gain weight. Sure it could be the daily offerings of holiday goodies or maybe I’m filling out my Santa figure to accompany the beard. More likely it’s because I worry and when I worry I eat. 
You might have gathered by now that I get a little more anxious about things than most. Not lock myself in a padded room bad but definitely above the norm. The holiday gift giving season is no exception. While others are looking forward to all the festivities and the warm embrace of family and friends, I am making my list, checking it twice and then rethinking it again and again. 
It baffles me how people can buy a gift, sometimes months in advance, wrap it up and throw it under the tree without a care in the world. What if your spouse mentions something else? What if you find the gift they got you and you’ve under spent? What if you see something better on QVC while you are up late night worrying? There are just too many “what ifs”. 
My paranoia wasn’t always this bad. When we were dating and even when the kids were little I was able to handle the pressure and for the most part did a good job of getting my wife things she wanted. But then as the complexity of our kids’ gift requests grew I became more and more concerned with the success of my offerings. Now Christmas and the two months around their birthdays have become my most dreaded times of the year. 


I by no means intend to cast any shadows on the gift getters in my house; they have always been a gracious lot. To some extent I think I am projecting my childhood gift obsessing onto my family. I always built up every gift getting holiday to the point that regardless of how great of a gift I got, it couldn’t live up to the dream. For instance, after seeing Back to the Future, I was holding out hope that for my birthday I had actually went back in time and altered the past so that I would wake up that morning in a new house with a brand new pickup in the garage with a bow on it…..that didn’t happen. So when I measure my offerings through that kind of lens they always fall short. 
Eventually my nervosity led my wife and I to call a gift giving truce. The agreement was simple enough, we could each get what we wanted for ourselves but we would skip the biannual exchanges. That would have worked perfectly, I know myself pretty well but my wife has not always been content to play by the rules of the accord. To make things worse she is pretty much a gift giving Jedi. 

Christmas morning arrives and inevitably there is a gift or two waiting for me under the tree. And not just socks. (actually I love fun socks if anyone is looking for a great gift idea) 
“How did you know I wanted this?” I asked last Christmas after receiving a gift I’d never even mentioned wanting. 
“Remember when we were at my sister’s for the Fourth of July? You were looking at that magazine and dog eared the page with the ad for it. Well, I figured that meant you wanted it” she replied matter of factly. 
How do I compete with that? I’m easily distracted. I try to listen when she mentions something she wants but before she finishes my mind has already moved on to what we should eat while watching the game. Wings? Pizza? Both? This has always been a problem for me so she was nice enough to set up a Pinterest page dedicated to gift ideas, that way they are just a click away. The page provides me the what but it is narrowing the what that makes me crazy. If there are seventy items listed how is a guy to choose?

All to often my mania has led to a frantic Christmas Eve dash to get something, anything, even if it wasn’t the right thing; shoes, cutlery, perfume…. I would swear you said you wanted a velour jogging suit? Luckily my wife started watching my activity as the big day approaches so she can distract me from such ill-fated shopping sprees. It has gotten bad enough that at times I’ve honestly thought about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, from what I understand they don’t believe in event based gift giving.
In this season of miracles you were probably hoping for a happy ending. One in which I overcame my gift giving phobia and my wife received the best gifts ever….. that probably isn’t going to happen.
Instead I am thinking of starting a support group. I’ll call it Empty Boxes Anonymous. December the 26th we’ll all get together and share pictures of the crestfallen faces of our loved ones. Then we will feast on wings and pizza because that always makes things better.
“Hello, my name is Eric and I have a gift giving problem…”


One thought on “Empty Boxes Anonymous 

  1. I’m afraid you might get that from me. I really tried my best, but I finally admitted that I am not a good shopper or gift giver. I don’t enjoy the struggle of it all. Oh, well. May have to join your group😊 Sent from my iPad



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