Gift-shopping for loved ones always a dilemma

Another week and still this election goes on. Every vote is disputed and every ruling has to go to court. And is it all done when a decision is made? No, then we have to go to another court and see if the other party can get a decision that agrees with them. The entire process is dragging America and our democratic system through the mud. This is a serious governmental problem and it must be …
Ah, who really gives a shit anymore?
Instead, lets talk about things that are more important this time of year than babies that can’t admit when they’ve lost. Last week we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday — that wonderful time of the year that forces an abridged week of school here at the University.
Now that we’re all back at school, a little more bloated, we can look forward to Christmas, the next “Big Holiday.” Every day until then is shopping season — the biggest rat race of the year in which we all rush from store to store, trying to find that perfect gift for everyone on our list.
I’ve loathed this season ever since I’ve first had a job, and thus money and the responsibility to buy presents with some of it. It isn’t a question of spending my money; I’m all for buying presents as long as they are appropriate. The reason I hate this time of year is because shopping for my family is incredibly tedious. I am your stereotypical male; I don’t like to browse. I like to go to a store, get what I want and leave. It’s very mechanical, very efficient, very unrealistic when shopping for the people that I do.
Parents can be difficult to shop for, and mine are no exception. They are the polar opposites of the gift-buying spectrum. My father wants everything, and my mother wants nothing. What do you buy for a woman who doesn’t eat chocolate or wear jewelry, loves Stephen King but has read all of his books, and prefers sweats and baggy shirts to dress clothes and can’t keep flowers or knickknacks because the cats or the day-care kids will surely destroy them?
The sole solution I have found is restaurant gift certificates. And every year, in a shocking display of unoriginality, Mom gets bombarded with an array of free money for fine dining across the metro area.
My father is just the opposite. Ask him what he wants, and he’ll rattle off an insurmountable list. The biggest problem is that the vast majority of items on his list are really expensive. For Dad, the toy of desire this year is a big screen TV. Yeah, he and the rest of male America.
Sure, I’m planning on buying my dad a big screen TV. Maybe the Daily will pay me up-front for my future columns. I can buy my dad the TV and in turn, write columns for this paper for free until I pay off my debt. Which would happen about three years after I finish my doctorate!
My list is slightly shorter this time as I come into Christmas a single beau for the first time in three years. While I miss some of the joys that relationships offer, single life offers me salvation from having to worry about buying what was always a possibly dangerous gift. There is a certain amount of heightened stress among the male contingent that comes with gift-giving time. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s day are potential mine fields.
There’s a decision that must be made when buying gifts for your special gal. Do you go the safe route and purchase the typical favorites — e.g. roses, candy etc. — things you know she’ll love, but might have already been overdone. After all, she might still have your candy from last year. Or do you go for something new that promises to be original, but might not be loved or even liked? For some men, this might be a simple decision, but for guys like me who are absolutely clueless about the feelings of the opposite sex, it was positively nerve-racking.
My advice for women who have a guy who falls into the latter category is to provide communication. Many of us are far more clueless than you think we are, and we do need help. And please, for the love of God, don’t say, “Whatever you get me will be fine,” because although we might not totally understand the female mind, we know better than to believe that.
We all have our own problems shopping for loved ones during this holiday season, namely because the people we shop for all have their own little quirks. So why do we do it? Why do we hunt for the perfect gift? Why do we put ourselves through the annoyance of standing in long check-out lines or any of the other irritations of this retail safari. Because out there, browsing at the other malls, is a loved one scratching his or her head and complaining about how impossible it is to shop for us.
Chris Schafer’s column appears alternate Wednesdays. He welcomes comments at [email protected] Send letters to the editor to [email protected]