As heard on the Good Stuff with Jim Thompson


 Del Bartels

          Mark, a young husband, felt an increasing foreboding of Christmas. He was becoming more apprehensive. After four years of marriage, he knew that if he did not get his wife, Anne, something this year that she really wanted for Christmas, he was going to get a huge, paper-wrapped present that looked depressingly like the living room couch.

          He stopped by the post office, keeping the bills and the sports magazines, and throwing away the junk mail. The junk was mostly magazines advertising woman’s winter apparel. Funny, for junk mail, they were not addressed to “resident” but had his wife’s name on them. He then stopped by the grocery store for a few items. A lady they knew from church just had to show off her new coat. It was in her favorite color of green. He didn’t rightly know the answer when the woman asked him what Anne’s favorite color was. Mark next stopped at the general store for a pair of work gloves. The clerk conversationally mentioned that women’s dress gloves and scarves were on sale. Did he know what style his wife might prefer? The man sidestepped the sales pitch. In doing so as politely as possible, he did agree that any new gloves and scarf would have to match a woman’s new coat.

          He arrived home. Anne said that they could put up the tree, starting before supper and finishing after. She said that she would have liked for them to go for a short walk, but her old winter coat just did not quite keep her warm enough. He mentally debated if a warm sweater would be a good Christmas gift, but he didn’t know her size. He noticed that her coat, as she was showing him the worn spots and the outdated style, had a tag in the collar. Perhaps one of her old sweaters also had a size printed in the same place? As they were decorating the tree, he had to hang up her coat to get it off of the back of the couch. He thought he was being a gentleman in not mentioning that she had absentmindedly not put it back in the closet. Later, in a joking mood, his wife saw his new work gloves and made a show of trying them on; they were way too big. When he put them away in the closet, she commented that their color and style matched his work coat. Was she actually admitting that he really did have some kind of sensible taste? Did she like that color, brown?

          The Christmas tree was finished. Every year it had a red theme because that was what she liked. She said the wooden sawhorse decoration would need a new coat of red paint before next year. She got all sappy over how velvety the cloth around the base of the tree was.

          They eventually got ready for bed. He went to turn off the tree lights. Funny, he thought that he had hung up her coat already. Maybe he was just thinking about it, but never actually did it? While she was brushing her hair in the bathroom, he quickly checked her bedroom chest of drawers for a sweater size. Got it! Wow, was she ever going to be surprised this Christmas!