All Clean Softwash December 2018

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DECEMBER 2018

How to Give a Good Gift After Giving a HORRIBLE One Full disclosure up front — I love everything about the holidays. From cookies and music to family get-togethers and spoiling my daughter, Justine, I am all about spreading cheer and getting into the spirit. I’d like to think I’m a pretty good gift-giver, but I learned one year that when you try to phone it in, the results can be less than spectacular. My husband, Tim, is one of those people who is impossible to shop for. He never has a list, and his most common response to what he wants for Christmas is “I don’t need anything.” Figuring out an ideal gift for him takes creativity, planning, and ingenuity. Without those things, it’s easy to end up with a gift that screams, “I had no idea what to get you.” Which is exactly the position I found myself in one Christmas. We were at a big family party, one where you open a gift in front of everybody. When Tim’s turn came, he unwrapped his present to find a sweater waiting inside. I know, I know. A sweater is the most cliché of gifts and is the easy option when you’re at a total loss. I should’ve known it wasn’t going to blow Tim’s mind, but what can I say? It was just what popped in my head. Now, in addition to being hard to buy presents for, Tim is one of the most gracious people you’ll ever meet, so he would never raise a ruckus about a gift. I don’t think anyone at the party could tell something was amiss. Anyone, that is, except for Justine and me. We could see on Tim’s face that he was disappointed with his gift. After we both took in his expression, we looked at one another. No words were exchanged, but the message was clear: Boy, we screwed up and we need to fix it.

Christmas sale for dog toys. We bought about 20 of them, took the time to wrap them, and waited anxiously for Tim’s response.

Simply seeing that we took the time to get him so many gifts was enough to raise Tim’s spirit. He opened the first and immediately starting goofing around with Duzer. By the time the third gift was open, Tim had realized what was in store for him. Thankfully, he was ecstatic. He and Duzer spent the entire day playing, trying out toy after toy. I can’t remember ever feeling so much relief after somebody’s reaction to a present. Tim didn’t try feeding that regretful sweater to Duzer, as he’s much too kind for that, but I wouldn’t have minded if he did. I was just glad that I didn’t finish the holidays with my gift-giving dunce cap still on my head. This year, in addition to the regular festivities and (hopefully) hitting it out of the park on the first try with Tim’s gift, the thing I’m looking forward to most this year is spending a second holiday season with my newfound grandmother. Yes, that’s right: I learned about a grandmother I never knew about last year, but that’s a story that deserves its own article. In fact, I think I know what I’ll be telling you about in January.

Before we had our own little family gift exchange a few days after Christmas, Justine and I sat down and devised a plan that would atone for my previous thoughtlessness. One of Tim’s favorite pastimes is playing with our dog, Duzer. We hit upon the idea of getting him a bunch of dog toys, individually wrapping them, and setting them up for a day of fun and surprises. Much to our delight, the pet store was having an after-

Happy holidays, everyone!

–Jennifer Ricca

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