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National Editorials & Columns

The first Christmas gift is important

I was talking to my girlfriend last night. Yes. I have a girlfriend. I’m as surprised as you are.

I’m talking to my girlfriend about what we’re going to get each other for Christmas. This is an important decision. This could be a deal breaker for the whole relationship. This first year sends a message, and you have to be very careful in how you craft that message.

Giving too much is like dropping the “L” word too soon. Giving too little means, “I don’t really care.” Giving the wrong gift says, “I don’t pay attention.” I’m paranoid about what the gift says I’m saying when maybe I’m not saying that at all; it’s just a well-intentioned expression of my admiration. That’s why you don’t give your girlfriend a bowling ball for her first Christmas with you.

“Just get her some perfume,” someone said.

Oh, no. Not perfume. Perfume is so wrong.

First, you don’t want to send a message that she needs to smell better. If she didn’t smell good already, she probably wouldn’t be your girlfriend. And perfume is so cliché. Everybody gets perfume. It sends a message that you’re not creative.

You could ask your girlfriend what she wants for Christmas. Are you kidding me?

OK, I already did that. It’s obligatory. But I got all the stock girlfriend responses: Oh, I don’t need much. I’ll be happy with whatever you get me. You don’t have to get me anything (there’s a big lie if there ever was one). You go through this whole charade, and when you’re done, you still don’t know what to get her for Christmas.

This is by design, guys. Women want you to surprise them. They want to see how closely you pay attention and whether you can get something right on your own. History has shown that I suck at this game.

I am the worst gift-giver of all time. I usually get something that I like instead of the person.

I tend to like practical gifts for myself. Last year, I told everyone (three people) that I wanted white T-shirts for Christmas. Christmas came. No T-shirts.

“I got the T-shirt hint,” Jennie said after my third rant about it. Jennie. That’s her name.

“No, no, no,” I said. “This is not a T-shirt year for you.” I don’t want T-shirts from my girlfriend for our first Christmas.

While a T-shirt would be held close to my heart, literally, this first Christmas together is extra special. It will be memorable for better or for worse, so I want to make sure it’s for better.

It’s tough, though. Here it is, days away, and all I have given her is a clear picture of how neurotic I am.

• David Porter who can be reached at

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