I have a confession to make: I have not even begun Christmas shopping yet.
I don’t have to get that much – just small gifts (most likely beer) for my immediate family members, a Snuggie for Doug’s sister whose name I drew in his family’s exchange, and four or five things, still mostly TBD, for Doug himself. But when all I’ve gotten so far is a gift for another couple we work with, and a bow to put on whatever package I’m wrapping for my mom, it’s a pretty overwhelming prospect. Especially when there are only six shopping days left until Christmas. And especially when I will be working for five of those days. And especially when Doug will be with me every moment I am not working – because for the first time in, oh, six months, we got identical shifts all week.
Part of me wishes I was a housewife, so I could use all that free time to make gifts for people, which would be way more meaningful anyway. But, besides finishing Doug’s stocking, which I sadly think won’t happen this year after all, and crocheting a brightly colored scarf for my brother’s girlfriend, I have no idea what I’d make. And as for housewifery?* It’s not really an option.
Besides the fact that I am horrid at all things domestic, it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever be in a financial situation that will allow me to stay home and do needle-crafts all day. Which, honestly, is more than okay with me. Last night, Doug was upset about the cost of his dental work, coupled with the remaining buy-off amount of our truck, coupled with the fact that he’s still trying to figure out whether/where/for what he wants to go to school.
“I feel like I keep setting us back,” he said. “Sometimes I feel like you’d be better off without me. Or like you would’ve been better off just staying with [ex-husband].”
Let me just get this out of the way: Ew.
“I hope I’ve never said anything that would lead you to believe I wish I had stayed with him,” I said, and Doug assured me that I haven’t.
Maybe I’ve alluded to my ex-husband’s readiness to play house and be grown-ups. Maybe I’ve mentioned his desire to bring home the bacon, and manage the money, and get many promotions quickly so that he would be able to brag about what a great provider he was. And maybe when I’ve talked about those things, the disdain in my voice hasn’t been thick enough, because – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I was not ready to grow up; I did not want to be my ex’s little wife.**
And since I left him, I’ve never looked back.
Do I sometimes wish we had a bigger financial cushion? Sure. Do I sometimes wish I could afford to work fewer hours so that I could stay home and do things like embroider stockings, or go out and do things like shop for Snuggies? Of course. But more than I want those possibilities, I want to be with Doug. And if the price of admission to being with Doug is not having time for housewifery,*** and occasionally toeing the poverty line, then so be it. He makes me happy.
And I suspect he feels the same way about my domestic disabilities. Tonight, when I was counting off all my Christmas woes, as I’m calling them, he told me he didn’t care if I never got around to getting him anything.
“But you have to have something to open on Christmas morning!” I insisted.
He pulled a bow off one of my presents, which he’s already wrapped and arranged under our little tree, and stuck it to my forehead.
“Look, a girlfriend!” he said, feigning surprise as he pulled the bow back off again. “This is the best Christmas present ever!”
*I can’t believe “housewifery” is a real word.
**While we’re on the subject of Christmas presents and my ex-husband… One year, I got my ex a gift certificate to go behind the scenes and into the pool at Sea World, since a dream of his had always been to swim with dolphins. The opportunity cost like $500 (and that only for him to swim; I was just going to watch), and just a few weeks before we were scheduled to go do it, he dislocated his pinky finger. He postponed his appointment indefinitely while he waited for his finger to heal, and by the time we split up nearly a year later, still hadn’t set a new date (because, he claimed, his finger was still bothering him). As far as I know, he never used the certificate at all.
***I really, really can’t believe it.