It's 5:16 p.m. the evening of Christmas Day. Early this morning, my husband of 32 years told me he didn't have a present for me. I told him it was OK. We have always exchanged gifts – sometimes small, sometimes big, but always thoughtful, sweet, and kind. I was really excited to have him open one of the gifts I got for him. He opened it before we left our home to visit our children. He really liked it. Our kids are all young adults, so our COVID-safe Christmas was a masked up drop-off of three Christmas dinners and gifts for each child – gifts I did the shopping for and bought online for the most part. It was great to visit everyone from the stoop and even the pouring rain didn't dampen our spirits.
Driving back home, my husband said he felt bad about not getting me anything. He said he didn't want to buy just anything, and the lines in stores were too long when he did try to buy a gift. Again, I told him it was OK. We both work full time and COVID has made both our jobs much more difficult – but my husband's more so. He has been working 14 hour days. When we got home I had two more smaller presents for him to unwrap and he really liked them both. Actually, he liked all his gifts so much so he went online to order three more copies of a gift given by our daughter so he could gift them to coworkers. I think the online order, after realizing I was not getting any gift, was what brought me to tears. I guess I just didn't believe him this morning. I really thought he was just teasing and I feel so foolish. Maybe it's the stress of 2020 and COVID Christmas, but I feel terrible about feeling hurt. And he's upset that I am upset because he did tell me earlier. Am I just being selfish and immature?
The 2020 holiday season ... it was sad and confusing for so many people. I understand why your husband messed up the gift thing this year. Totally understandable. But I also understand why, at the end of a day of dropping off food and gifts for children you can barely see, you got home, felt exhausted, and thought, "What about me?" Honestly, this might be the first "Where's my present?" letter I felt in my bones. You coordinated so much for a complicated day. Watching your husband buy gifts for co-workers at the end of it probably didn't help.
The thing about COVID times is that we start new traditions and make changes based on what's safe (if we're doing it right). That means any other day can be a do-over. You can still have a romantic meal, some coordinated event, and a celebration of love. I am in the "Valentine’s Day is not a thing!" camp, for the most part, but this year, I plan to celebrate it by treating myself in some way, and I might encourage couples I know to take a moment to appreciate all they've survived this past year. You can tell your husband he'll have a second chance for gifts next month because you'd like to make something special out of the holiday. He sounds like a transparent communicator. Be clear about your expectations. Tell him you'd like the intimate holiday gift giving you missed at the end of the year. It doesn't have to be a massive deal, but you'd like to feel seen and celebrated.
Also, it doesn't have to be Valentine’s Day. Do it whatever day you want. Groundhog Day seems fitting. Just make it a thing.
Readers? Not all "I didn't get a gift" letters are equal. Thoughts on communicating about this?