56: It’s the Thought that Counts

56: It’s the Thought that Counts

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic

It’s the Thought that Counts

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs—jolted by every pebble in the road.

~Henry Ward Beecher

By 11:30, a second UPS driver sprinted to our porch clutching yet another box. It was looking like UPS had relocated their local distribution facility to my driveway. With just a few days left until Christmas, I began to sense Barbara’s and my “no-gift agreement” was off.

Back in November, my fiancée and I had decided that new granite kitchen countertops and appliances would be our Christmas gifts to one another. I went along with the plan. After all, lugging fifteen-pound granite samples into our house for several days was considerably less painful than strolling zombie-like through the women’s department at Macy’s in search of the girlie things she would delight in receiving for Christmas. I was off the hook.

How could she be so incredibly thoughtful every Christmas? How could I be so predictably clueless when it came to buying a few nice gifts for the woman I love? How naive was I to think I could avoid perfume counters and jewelry cases this year? I hoped these daily deliveries were for Barbara’s kids or grandchildren, but somehow, I knew some of those boxes would be for me.

At 3:35, a FedEx truck delivered yet another reminder that I was probably getting more than a slab of gold-flecked granite and a dual-fuel oven in my stocking. The stark realization that I might be the only one opening presents on Christmas morning caused a sudden rush of blood to my face. At fifty-eight, I hadn’t experienced a hot flash. Until now.

The pressure was on and I needed to produce a couple of tasteful gifts with about ninety-six hours to get it done. I immediately thought of the online pajama company I had heard about on the radio earlier that morning.

“Guaranteed Christmas delivery,” echoed through my brain. These ads were directed at men like me. I was familiar with their line of PJs and knew I could find just the right set for Barbara to slip into while I opened the gifts that now lined the front hallway of our home.

I browsed and browsed. Then I pointed and clicked some more. “Sugarplum flannel.” Nice, but flannel isn’t too sexy. “Sweet snowflake thermal pajamas.” Even I know this is not the best choice for a menopausal woman. “Red Seduction Chemise.” Nice! But would Barb question my motivation for such a selection? The search continued.

Then they caught my eye. “Oh-So-Soft Lavender Pin Dot Nursing Pajamas.” Barbara is a Registered Nurse and loves all things lavender. How clever was I? I’d managed to find a personal gift with time to spare. All I needed was a couple of stocking stuffers and I’d be golden.

Christmas morning arrived with all the festive touches. Lighted tree, fireplace aglow. Warm cinnamon buns rested on a glistening new granite kitchen countertop. And a set of pajamas just waiting to be opened sat under the Christmas tree.

Without ever acknowledging that both parties broke the no-gift rule, we began to unwrap our presents. Baking supplies for me. Lindt chocolates and a final unwrapped gift for her. “TO: Barbie, FROM: Mikey,” the tag read.

“Oh! I love the color,” she exclaimed with joyful enthusiasm. “And so soft.” It looked like the PJs were a hit. Barb pulled them from the tissue-lined box and held them up to be sure they would fit. “Perfect fit,” she assured me.

Barbara’s twenty-eight-year-old daughter Shannon was visiting and seemed to approve as well.

“Are those buttons on the shoulders?” she asked her mom. Even though I hadn’t recalled seeing shoulder buttons from the Internet pictures, I thought they added a nice touch.

“What kind of pajamas did you say these were?” Shannon asked me. “Nurse’s pajamas,” I replied. “See? The top looks like hospital scrubs. They’re pajamas for a nurse.”

As if on cue, both Barbara and Shannon laughed about as loudly as I’d ever heard. Before they explained, it dawned on me why they were so amused.

“See? The buttons allow these flaps to...” Yes, I got it. Those weren’t hospital scrubs. I bought nursing pajamas for a woman who, as far as I knew, would never need them again.

But Barbara loved them and wore them to bed later that Christmas night. And not once did she question my motivation for giving her a shoulder-buttoned pajama top for nursing mothers!

~Mike Morin


More stories from our partners