The Male Christmas Experience: You've gone through this all about 20 times before, so you understand you're pretty much hopeless before the whole things starts. But you know you have to shop anyway, and you still remember a couple of ground rules from past Christmas disasters.
Rules like don't buy her something that reminds her of work, like a toilet plunger, and don't buy her something that you really want for yourself like "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."
So, armed with these reminders in your toolbox and a few others, you head out to the store.
You do not do this at a normal time because you are too smart for that. Instead, you tell her that you're going to the gym, and she's a little suspicious because for starters it's a quarter 'til midnight, and you're like 240 pounds on a 5-foot-9-inch frame and wouldn't know a treadmill from a tachometer. Coincidentally, it's also three days before Christmas, but she lets it go.
You haven't been inside the superstore for five minutes when you're on your knees begging some blue-smock-wearing stranger for help picking out a present. That strategy is shot all to pieces before it even starts because she comes from some Caribbean island where the traditional gift is fish, and you can't wait for the day when you're like 85 years old and can do your Christmas shopping at the 7-Eleven and give all the people on your list a can of potted meat without them saying anything because, well, you know.
So you get home after everyone's asleep and start wrapping, and even though it's not New Year's, you start making resolutions early. The first resolution is never again buy that wrapping paper that costs $2.44 a roll, is the basic consistency of kelp and won't crease or fold or drape or do much of anything except tear and go limp.
By the time you're finished wrapping, you have worked up such a spite against the wrapping paper that you take the last unused 3 feet of it and throw it straight in the trash. You go back inside and pop a beer, and after half an hour, you start to calm down — until you find a present that you forgot to wrap, and you have to go back out to the curb and dig the wrapping paper out of the trash.
You go back and forth over whether the garbage water smell has permeated the parchment, but you finally decide it's OK — or at least it beats another trip to the store.
Which you would gladly do if you thought it would get you out of helping with the Christmas meal. But happily they haven't bothered you too much about kitchen assistance since the unpleasantness two years ago when you tried your hand at an apple torte which, when you tried to flip it onto a serving dish, went all over the floor. Your family watched as the dog hustled over, sniffed, and decided it wasn't fit to eat, although he did return a few minutes later and rolled in it.
But this is a new Christmas Day, and at some point in the past week, you noticed that Christmas is on a Sunday this year. But you're afraid to say anything because maybe she won't notice and will forget all about church, which is pretty unlikely come to think about it. But this is not your problem — let her tell the children that they have to go to church before they open gifts and watch an entire generation of kids get turned off to Christianity, but no matter, it will be over soon and then it will just be you — and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."
Happy New Year.