Rest ye merry gentlemen

It’s all about the x-mas chromosome

Joel Davis is the author of Justice Waits: The UC Davis Sweetheart Murders.

My wife gave me a bunch of sensible clothes for Christmas last year: socks, underwear and about 87 sweaters.

She does this every year. Otherwise, I’d likely be a rag man.

See, my wife, like most women with most men, knows that unless she replaces my clothes—especially the underwear—it’s not going to happen. Yep, it is worn until it just sort of biodegrades. This likely has something Freudian to do with the fact that most of our moms bought us guys our underwear until we were 18, and I won’t go any further than that. Then, our girlfriends took over (or we just roughed it). Now, it’s our wives. It’s just something they do.

Do we return the favor? Hah!

This is a one-sided phenomenon: Few men are brave or smart or imaginative enough to buy clothes for their partners as gifts. Show me a married or attached man who has tried to give his wife clothes for Christmas and I will show you a poor sod who has to stand in the return line on December 26.

Aside from, say, maybe a one-size-fits-all winter coat or the occasional stab at lingerie, we haven’t a clue of how to buy clothes for the fairer sex. So it’s perfume and jewelry to the rescue, maybe an appliance or two, perhaps a CD or book or three.

And Christmas cards and letters? Puh-leeze. Women either do them (often forging both our signatures) or they won’t get done.

Women see Christmas as a chance to make us—the house, yard, etc.—look better. Last year, I did a quick e-mail survey of some friends I grew up with (note the professions: I was the only one who decided to take a vow of poverty and become a writer) regarding Operation Wife Wardrobe. And the proof is in the presents.

The attorney: “My wife gave me a couple of pairs of boxers, shoes, some shirts and my [damned] cat gave me a sweater. I gave up trying to give my wife clothes. She was too nice to return anything I bought her but had too much good fashion sense to wear it.”

The banker: “One pair of boxers from Amy. No socks.”

The architect: “This year was no exception—socks and underwear. Isn’t this their season? That said, I don’t mind socks at all. They are keeping my feet warm right now.”

A lean year for the dentist: “I got socks. Usually end up also getting pants, sweater, or shirts, but not this year for some reason.”

Only the accountant broke rank and actually reciprocated (but hey, he’s sensible): “Marie gave me shirts, underwear and socks along with a bunch of other goodies. I didn’t buy her panties but I did buy her some pants and shirts.”

It is only fitting that women buy us our clothes for Christmas because they own Christmas. We men are mere guests. We’re just along for the ride, to receive presents and to hang lights.

It may not sound enlightened or especially alpha male, but Christmastime is, well, girl time. Guys really do like Christmas, it’s just that most of us are Christmas sponges, relying on women to do the bulk of the heavy lifting.

We’re Christmas-challenged. We don’t put Christmas knickknacks on our desks the way the ladies do. We don’t give our friends gifts the way the women do. We don’t bake pretty plates of sugary confections for the neighbors.

We even let our wives work our side of the ledger. Of the half-dozen guys I consider my best friends, I did not give a thing to any of them last year and vice versa. We are more than OK with this; we have an understanding—beyond a good-natured insult is overkill. “Merry Christmas, you putz” usually suffices. “Back at ya, dirtbag.”

But, of course, our wives exchanged cards, even gifts in some cases. Yep, that’s right, our wives even cover for us when it comes to our friends. Left to our own devices, Christmas would be something grilled, a six-pack, maybe whatever pro game airs that day. In other words, left to the guys, Christmas would be the Fourth of July without sparklers.

Ho-ho-no from this guy, everyone, and may Santa Claus treat you well.

No matter how busy she is.