Gift of the Magi?Christmas, for the lovely Lesbian Housewyfe, seems to be a turbulent time. For instance, as a people, Americans spend the time leading up to that day of good cheer diving into shopping malls and factory outlet stores, desperately searching for the perfect gift for everyone on their little Christmas lists. We torture children all year round with the idea that, if they aren’t good girls and boys, they won’t be on the big granddaddy of all lists: Santa’s. Our whole December is aimed towards that single hour (or half-hour even) Christmas morning when we revel in the glory which is the gifting time.

As a role model for those American people, the Lesbian Housewyfe is duty bound to commit to this particular, or perhaps I should say peculiar, American tradition. I mean, even with full knowledge of Lesbian Law #8: Take full responsibility for creating your own traditions, I do tend to follow the crowd and attempt to embrace cultural oddities if only for the experience.

However, I should note here that I am one of those horrible people who always handmake my gifts. I spend some time in the stores, but the majority of my December (and November, October, and part of September) is spent working my little fingers to the bone crocheting or cross-stitching or sewing some little odd lot of stuff. I’m also really into the surprise of the whole thing so I end up having two or three projects going at once and, for example, this year I had to convince Stephie to visit her sister in Steamboat Springs so I could finish my mother-in-law’s afghan. I mean really. Who on earth would put up with this sort of thing?

And yet, this year, I succumbed completely. My goal this Christmas was to buy my love the most special Christmas present she has ever received. Or, at least, whatever she wanted.

Steph is a wonderful handyperson, technical director, lighting and sound designer, and broken tile mosaic artiste extraordinaire. Therefore, I turned to the handyperson’s mecca: the Sears Hardware Section. Through careful listening, I had managed to put together my specific instructions. I needed to procure a 12 volt Makita cordless drill with a keyless chuck, battery charger, and extra reserve battery. Yet, as the fateful day approached, I found myself desperately searching for an opportunity to unobtrusively travel to Sears and obtain the object of Steph’s desire. My chance came when Barb, my mother-in-law, expressed a need to visit the hallowed halls and take advantage of a two hour sale. She wanted presents for the grandchildren and unknowingly assisted me.

I had my instructions. I had my ride. I had a really good diversion. The Christmas season had me in its grip.

I left Steph with Barb and the excuse that I needed some jeans. That was when the music started. I became acutely aware that I should have a holly jolly Christmas and that red-nosed reindeer, individually embraced as the harbingers of joy and light, should be shunned as a group. I began to recite to myself, “Happiness equals shopping” as I walked with purpose past the women’s clothing to the escalator. A quick trip down and I was propelled into the vast hardware aisles. I could tell I was luckier than the rest as my eyes were not yet glazed over. I found myself in danger of succumbing, just as the location of the drill was revealed and I nabbed it with all the fervor of a holiday shopper in the midst of a great sale. It was the only one left. I was just lucky no one else was around at the time. I couldn’t handle a struggle at that point. I had been weakened by the flashing lights.

Trembling with excitement at finding my prize, I proceeded with purpose to the register where I waited impatiently for my turn to purchase, my virgin Sears credit card clenched in my warm fist. My time came shortly and I presented both card and drill to the clerk. He took one look at the tool I was thrusting towards him and said, “Now, are you sure you need such a powerful drill?”

I nodded mutely. I thought, is he going to take away my drill? It’s the perfect present! If I get Stephie this, she will love me forever. He can’t have my drill. How will I have a holly jolly Christmas?!

I held out my credit card. He ignored it.

“What does your husband do?” He asked.

The spell was broken. It takes so little to break out of this particular phenomenon.

Suddenly, I no longer cared if I had a happy Christmas. My early feminist training kicked in with a vengeance. I fell back on my newfound list of Lesbian Laws, searched through, and came up with the stinger. Lesbian Law #19: Respond calmly under the duress of faulty logic and then make that fool suffer like no fool’s ever suffered before.

I replied, “She’s the technical director at a theatre.”

I wish I had taken my camera to the store. Never before have I seen so many conflicting emotions cross someone’s face. I am sure I could have gotten a contemporary pictorial record of all the classic musical theatre expressions. Do you know how much that could be worth? No self respecting actor would be caught dead using those old techniques. This was definitely a rare moment. He ended the show by ringing me through with record speed and sending me gladly on my way. I admit I am a bit proud when I say that I was, probably, his most discussed customer of the day.

Plus, I got a great price on a power drill! Small grocery store sales have nothing on those special holiday purchases found at a truly great discount. I love Sears.

I twittered my way back through the store and hid my gift in the back seat of a friend’s car for deposit at our little home while Steph and I were visiting her sister.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Steph had her own plans involving Sears. She managed to surprise me Christmas morning with a brand new Kenmore sewing machine. She sneaked it in right under my nose one day after we got back from Steamboat. She even bought it while we were both at the store together and transported it in the same car. I am clueless sometimes, but isn’t that part of my charm? Maybe she’s just really sneaky.

As the Christmas programming slowly wore off after the gift giving, I woke up enough to hear Barb say, “You girls are so stereotypical. Steph gets a drill and LA, a sewing machine. I thought you were more enlightened.”

Now, why didn’t I think of that?

After all, I am the Lesbian Housewyfe, and we are all familiar with Lesbian Law #1:

Never underestimate the power of the Lesbian Housewyfe.

Oh well. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.

***

I can’t remember if this was our first or second Christmas together, but I know it happened early on. I still have that sewing machine (these days, it is sadly neglected and needs a good tuning) but the drill is long gone, replaced with more exciting and powerful drills along the way. Until I read this again, I’d forgotten the salesman getting so confused and horrified.

I wish I could say that things have changed, but a couple of summers ago, I had a moment at knitting group with a woman who didn’t know me. As we familiarized ourselves with each other, I mentioned that we were going to visit my wyfe’s mother for some vacation. She said “you mean, your husband’s mother.”

Huh? “No, I mean my wyfe’s mother.”

We both sat there in utter confusion for a moment until my dear friend, Nancy, said, “Just say mother-in-law.”

And suddenly, we both were enlightened. The new person realized I was a lesbian and I realized she was just confused because she’d never met a married lesbian before.

Since then, I always say “mother-in-law.”

And purchase fancier drills.

***

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