Body, Mind & Spirit

Now that Thanksgiving and Advent chill is in the air, you are probably thinking about your Christmas gift list and the people who are on it. Me, too! However, one of the purposes of this column is to help my wife purchase the gifts I really need instead of buying another package of tube socks. So let me provide a little guidance to all the ladies out there who may have trouble finding the perfect gift for their men.

First, if you are married to one of those guys who says, “Really, you don’t need to get me anything for Christmas. Let’s go to Hawaii instead” – well, ladies, you’d better jump on that one like a Texas Roadhouse potato! Forget the can of salted nuts and reserve your flight before Thanksgiving to avoid the rush.

Men have to be held accountable for all the crazy things they say and Christmas is a great place to start. Remember, Herod didn’t buy anything for Jesus and the Magi brought impractical gifts. Christmas is a seasonal reminder that men can do better.

Other men expect too much. They don’t say anything, but they really want the motorcycle or the chain saw instead of the dress shoes and socket wrench set. But ladies, don’t worry, men are adaptable. If you are looking for meet-in-the-middle gifts, don’t overlook items like KFC gift cards or large cans of freestone peaches. Men experience acceptance through their stomachs and if you do get to Hawaii in December, I hear there are loads of pork.

Most men are practical. We’re not really expecting anything, so whatever shows up in our stockings is golden. Great practical gifts include a ten-pack of duct tape or Gorilla glue. Shampoo and razor blades work well also, as we would never buy these items for ourselves. We wait for women to purchase these for us, otherwise we don’t shower and shave.

Finally, men do a have a soft spot too. Women will find that men can live with less if we know that others are receiving more. A gift to your favorite mission, or to a needy family, or to the work of the church can go a long way in satisfying a man’s urge to be a caretaker and provider. I know I’d go without a gift this year if my wife wanted to give my tube socks to a neighbor – and I wouldn’t be offended.

During these tough times, it is helpful to remember that it’s the spirit of the gift that counts, that’s why I plan on writing my wife a lot of poetry and my kids are getting Chia-pets. These will be reminders that other people need our generosity more than our sympathy – we can feel sorry for ourselves. And I really don’t care if I get a Christmas gift this year, I’d rather have my faith and my family around me, and lots of love and laughter. I’ll bet you would, too.

Nevertheless, I’m not taking my wife to Hawaii. I hear Akron, Ohio is wonderful in January.

Todd Outcalt serves the Calvary congregation in Brownsburg and is the author of many books including The Ultimate Christian Living and The Best Things in Life Are Free. He has written for magazines including The Christian Century, American Fitness, and Leadership.