The idea of ‘gift getting’ swept right under the rug

The idea of ‘gift getting’ swept right under the rug

A man of simple tastes and a strong aversion to receiving gifts of any kind for any occasion, my family has long cast me as a holiday, birthday and pretty much every day curmudgeon. To be clear, I have no issue whatsoever with the giving of gifts. Heck, I get as much joy as Santa himself in finding something nice for the wife and kids. Just don’t put me on the receiving end of things.

If there’s something I desperately need, I’ll buy it, and if there’s something I want but don’t necessarily need, I generally wait it out until the thought evaporates with the change of seasons. My wife takes great issue with this notion. As a caring nurturer, my “weirdness about getting gifts” runs contrary to her entire way of being. So every year as my January birthday approaches, we engage in an extended discussion about what I need versus what I want. More often than not, the only way out is for me to pick something out for myself, which she then purchases and gifts to me. In this manner I’ve assembled a lifetime supply of wool socks and stocking caps.

This time around, distracted by work deadlines and other such nonsense, she failed to confront me at all. I thought for a brief moment I’d finally won the war. That’s when I heard a scream from the kitchen.

“What in the world was that?” I shouted from the living room.

“That scream?” Kristin said. “That was our 100-year-old hand mixer struggling to whip the batter for your birthday cake.”

She barked it on and off a couple more times to prove her point.

“Ah ha!” I said. “Maybe that’s what I need for my birthday — a new hand mixer.”

“Very funny,” she said. “If we’re going to play that game, maybe you should just gift wrap a new vacuum cleaner for yourself. That’s what this place really needs.”

Her smart aleck response landed directly at the intersection of “need” and “want” for me. Vacuuming the carpet has long been one of my favorite household chores — a direct result of the advent of the clear plastic dirt tank wherein the fruits of my labor accumulate into an almost indescribably satisfying tornado of filth. The dirt tank on our present vacuum was held in place with length of repurposed bicycle inner tube, and I’d replaced the belt so many times that I’d changed the pass code on my phone to the model number of the part because it was easier to remember.

My birthday evening came and went with nary a mention of a gift, but the next morning I was up and out on an early mission, returning before Kristin had even finished her first cup of coffee.

“Where have you been so early?” she said as I stepped through the door dragging a large box behind me.

“Off buying you a new vacuum for my birthday,” I laughed. “It’s truly a gift that will keep on giving. Thanks for being so thoughtful!”

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at

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