“Look,” I say finally, because I’m tired of worrying about it, “I’m just gonna level with you. I didn’t get you a Christmas present this year.”
You nod. Maybe you’re going to say something to me in reply.
But I’m too pent up and too impatient. Too defensive. So instead I continue. “It’s just… with all that’s gone on this year… with all the logistics for other people’s presents, with how hard it is to be sneaky about anything when we’re both home all the time for the pandemic, it just… it just wasn’t possible.”
You laugh. “I know. I didn’t get you anything either.”
And I’m filled instantly with relief.
There have been a lot of holiday seasons when neither of us have given the other a present. Or one of us gave something and the other didn’t. My favorite years have been the ones when we took trips over the holidays. One year, we went to Niagara Falls and watched all the other tourists. Walked 20,000 steps all over the city (thanks, step counter!) — vising the tacky wax museum, picking up a large order at Tim Horton’s to bring back to our hotel room (which had a microwave and a fridge — ooh la la!) so we would have a Canadian feast on Christmas Day when most everything was closed. Kissed each other while the nightly fireworks exploded.
Another year, we were in Mexico, riding a jeep through the mountains, past farms and villages. Bird-watching in an estuary. Eating fresh mangoes and tacos with tortillas that were made by hand using a press in front of us.
This year we can’t travel of course. And we can’t gather with either of our families (who are both a significant distance away).
You seem intent on adding more holiday-themed touches than we normally bother with. I think it’s to put yourself in the mood, since much of what we normally do is inaccessible.
And I had worried there would be an unspoken expectation of gift exchange between us this year because of your sudden extra-festiveness. But nope.
“You’re the best present I could ever get anyway,” I say. It’s cheesy but true.
“D’awww,” you reply, flushing a bit.
Later, I take it back — when you’re teasing me to get a rise out of me. “I want to return this gift!” I squeal. This only eggs you on, since you know I’m joking.
You’re incorrigible. But so am I.