Originally created 11/27/05

Christmas presents can be tricky things



A week ago, my husband and I are were stalled in traffic on Wrightsboro Road. What was the holdup, we wondered. An accident? Road construction?

As we inched along, we finally came to the source of the bottleneck. Hundreds of cars were trying to muscle their way into Augusta Mall. I looked at him with panic in my eyes.

"I can't believe it!" I said. "Here they are already, swooping in like a swarm of tinsel-trimmed locusts. The holidays!"

It's not that I'm a Scrooge; there are many aspects to the holidays I enjoy. Copious egg nog drinking is at the top of my list, as is noshing on any delicious goody that isn't nailed down.

In fact, I look forward to almost every facet of the Christmas holidays except for the gift-giving. There've been years that I've procrastinated so terribly that I've been reduced to buying presents at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve at the Circle K, a habit that causes more than a little embarrassment on Christmas morning.

"A package of triple-A batteries? You shouldn't have!"

"Those aren't just any batteries," I say, trying to make my gift seem less pathetic than it really is. "Those are alkaline batteries."

One of the worst nightmares, however, is when someone shows up with a present and you don't have one to give in return. That's when you do the big fake-out.

"I have a gift for you, too!" you lie like a rug. "Let me get it."

You rush to the kitchen hoping to find something to pawn off on your friend.

"I hope you like Bisquick," you say when you return. "Sorry I didn't have time to wrap it."

Not all gift-giving is harrowing. Women, for instance, are a cinch to buy for. We can always use another scented candle or a cute but essentially useless doo-dad.

Men, on the other hand, are a nightmare to buy for. The stores try to be helpful by setting up tables with appropriately rugged gifts such as tackle boxes. But beware! The gift must have the proper level of manliness or will it not be a success. I learned that lesson last year when I bought my husband-to-be a toolkit.

"You know how you're always looking for a hammer or a screwdriver?" I said, immensely proud of my choice. "Here they are, all in one case."

David made the proper noises, but I could tell he was less than thrilled with the gift. Later, when we were waiting for my family to drop by, I caught him hiding the tool kit.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"This is a girlie toolbox," David confessed. "The tools are too small and the case is too shiny. I can't let your brothers and father see it. They'd laugh at me."

Who knew toolkits had genders? This year, I'm playing it safe. I'll get David a package of batteries with the highest and manliest voltage possible; that is, if I can make it to the Circle K before it closes Christmas Eve.

P.S.: I'm sad to announce that this is my last column for The Augusta Chronicle. I've enjoyed writing for the paper, but my workload with my book publisher is so great that I have no choice but to give it up. Thanks so much for reading and for all of your kind comments.

Augusta resident Karin Gillespie is the author of Bet Your Bottom Dollar and A Dollar Short. She can be reached through her Web site at www.karingillespie.com.