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Take the Mystery Out of Gifts

With the holiday season fast approaching here¡¦s some thoughts on gift giving.

A true gift is one without a hidden agenda. One that you don¡¦t have to reciprocate. The gift most important to most women is the gift of time and personal attention: ¡§He listens to me.¡¨ ¡§He accepts and validates my feelings.¡¨

Sometimes gift giving is the ultimate test to find out if that special person really knows you. Relationships are made or broken on the strength of the right gift, especially if you have been totally disappointed previously. Four out of five men can¡¦t remember what they got their partners for Christmas last year. The dead-wrong gift can be a turning point in a relationship; the right-on gift can be a rebirth of a faltering relationship. The right gift is one that you take the time, trouble, and careful research to find and reflects your understanding of your special person¡¦s interest.

Even when women drop hints to their guys, they still get disappointed when they don¡¦t get the gift they really wanted. A lot of guys feel the pressure is on to perform the magic. Ladies, forget the thought if he really loved me he would know what I want.

End the misery.
Take the poison early.
Just tell him.

You¡¦re the one responsible for getting the gifts that you want. I know it¡¦s not romantic, but you must go beyond the hints that aren¡¦t working and tell him you really want that big diamond ring.

If the gifts you want aren¡¦t arriving consider these options:

?U Take your partner shopping and show him several possibilities. Then, be surprised which one you get.
?U Make sure your partner knows your sizes and the colors you like.
?U As my daughter-in-law Nancy leaves a store after seeing something she likes, she tells her husband Rob, ¡§That was a medium.¡¨
?U If you have your partner with you, be careful what you say. He is not your girlfriend. My wife would say, ¡§That¡¦s cute.¡¨ My guy radar would go on. I would come back later and get it. Now, Harriet says, ¡§That¡¦s cute. But don¡¦t get it for me.¡¨
?U If someone doesn¡¦t come forward with the gift you want, as long as its not going to affect the national debt or put a burden on you to pay if off on plastic money, get it.

I was talking about the above in a coffee shop and Dorothy said, ¡§My husband just gave me a birthday card that read, ¡¥I found the perfect gift for you.¡¦ Inside it read, ¡¥Let¡¦s sit down and I¡¦ll explain why we can¡¦t afford it.¡¦¡¨ Cute, Eh? Dorothy went out and got what she wanted!

Don¡¦t go giftless. There was a hot restaurant in a town near us. On a lark we just drove over to see if we could get in. While we were waiting another couple came in without a reservation. The guy looked frazzled. They were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary. We were both turned down for a reservation. I asked where they were going next. They said a little French restaurant close by.

We went over there to see if we could get in. We could, but the wait was an hour. It was already 8 p.m. In desperation, the other couple took the reservation. It was this guy¡¦s 18th anniversary and he hadn¡¦t bothered to make a dinner reservation!? His wife was standing there holding a gift and a card for him. He had nothing, not even a card. He was trying to laugh it off about not having a reservation, a gift, or a card. His wife was not amused. What do you think? Any meaningful romance after dinner that night? Ah, no.

I was talking to Frances after a Valentine¡¦s Day speaking engagement. She told me that she had wanted this ring for Valentine¡¦s Day. She went as far as cutting the ad out of the paper and sending her husband off to get it. He came back with a different ring. Same price. She asked him, ¡§Why didn¡¦t you get me the ring I wanted?¡¨ He said, ¡§I didn¡¦t like it.¡¨ He wasn¡¦t going to wear it.

After talking to Frances, there was no doubt that her husband went back into the penalty box. And guys, you don¡¦t want to be in the penalty box, because you don¡¦t get sex . . . not even maintenance sex.

Stefani shared with a group I was speaking to that for her it doesn¡¦t always have to be an expensive or elaborate gift or flowers, just something that shows he cares. She told the group that her boyfriend had been out of work for some time and had just started another job. On Valentine¡¦s Day he took white shoe polish and wrote a special love note on her front window in reverse so she could read it. Stefani said, ¡§That was worth more than any roses.¡¨

It was getting close to Christmas and Harriet asked me what I wanted. I just dropped some hints thinking she would figure it out. I wanted a computer to help me do this book. Under the tree appeared a big box, the size a computer comes in. On Christmas morning I started opening up the present with the anticipation of putting my manuscript on disc. Was I shocked, because in my computer box was a huge world atlas on a stand that lit up. As you can read, I did get a computer. But I still kick myself for not going beyond the hints.

Often, gifts are given to smooth things over and get out of trouble. A clue here, guys, from my friend Denise: ¡§When men purchase a gift to get out of the dog house, don¡¦t choose a permanent gift for the house. It will be a constant reminder of bad times. Forgiven maybe, but likely not forgotten. Consider a temporary gift with an appreciated apology.¡¨

Denise told me that she had wanted some artwork for her home for years. She knew exactly what it was. At the worst possible time in their marriage, her husband Dave repeated something that almost ended their marriage previously. He tried to recover from this disaster by finally presenting Denise the artwork she had always wanted. Although their marriage survived, the present did not stay out long. It has been packed away for years, seldom to be seen. Denise said, ¡§Years later I still can¡¦t bring myself to put it out because I start reliving that difficult time.¡¨

A note to guys: if you have your partner on a tight budget, don¡¦t overwhelm her with lavish gifts. This sends a mixed message.

Nugget: Examine your motivation for giving a gift. Only give appropriate gifts, even when you¡¦re in trouble.

How: If you really want a certain gift, tell someone you really want it. Ask a friend or salesperson what would be appropriate.

Z There are four things guys have trouble saying. I¡¦m lost.
I can¡¦t fix it. I¡¦m sorry. I love you.

A Special Gift

There is an air show in Hayward California each year. At the last show there were two World War II Bombers, a B-17 and a B-24. They were on their way to a larger air show in Watsonville, California, scheduled a couple of days later.

Fred, in his seventies, was still a pilot. He was out every morning walking around the B-24, stopping, and staring off in the distance. He flew in B-24¡¦s during World War II over Europe. Not only did he fly in B-24¡¦s, this was the exact plane he flew in. Fred still belonged to his old unit and would attend reunions. They knew the numbers of this plane and that it was being restored.

Just before the planes were to depart for Watsonville, the old flight jockey¡¦s wife and son told him, ¡§Dad, you¡¦re going with them. We have made arrangements for you to fly to Watsonville in the B-24.¡¨ The son said, ¡§It was the first time I saw my dad cry.¡¨

What an opportunity to relive the past. A real sentimental journey. The two war birds took off with Dad in his original seat. They made a fly-by, flew out over the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, and down to Watsonville. Think Fred will remember this? You bet. Make Memories.

Captain Bob, Author
Fire Up Your Communication Skills