As most of you know, I have coffee with my mother almost every morning. This morning, I got there a little late, and she had already finished breakfast. When she finished breakfast, she moved into the activity room and started playing the piano. When I walked in, I heard the piano. Immediately, I knew it was her playing. As I made my way back toward where she was, I noticed a small crowd gathered around the piano listening to Mom play. Some would clap their hands, others would tap time with their feet, and a few were even singing along.
Mom played her favorite hymns, one after the other. Without ever looking at a piece of music, she played and played. Listening to her play has been the soundtrack of my life.
While I was standing there, one of the women named Elizabeth (that’s her in the picture with my mom) reached over and took my hand. She patted my hand and said, “I love hearing your mother play. She helps me through the bad days.”
Illness has taken a lot from my mother. A lot of the things she used to do, she can’t do any more. There are a lot of things she can’t remember any more. But she remembers the hymns. She can still play the hymns. And she does. In a place where she doesn’t want to be, she still plays the hymns. It’s the way she prays. It’s her testimony—her protest against life that has taken so much from her, metered out in 3/4 time.
And along the way, she helps her friends through the bad days. Funny, isn’t it? After all of these years, I’m still taking lessons from Mom.
The Christmas holidays bring a lot of stress to our lives. We pack up the family for an exhausting drive to see our families. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like several hours in a car with over sugared, hyped up kids. We have to listen to the same stories from the same relatives. After all, it’s not Christmas unless you’re trapped in a small living room with a few dozen of your relatives.
And then there is the torture of having to buy a Christmas present for your wife. All of us guys have had that moment listening to a friend of ours who gave his wife hedge trimmers for Christmas. That ended up ruining Christmas and most of January too. There’s so much pressure to NOT get the WRONG gift is makes getting the right gift seem almost impossible.
But there IS a way…and here it is.
First, your wife tells you all year long what she wants for Christmas. You just have listen…and take notes. Whenever you’re with her and she says, “I would like to have…” or “One day, what I really want…” Make a note. Sure, not all of these statements are realistic. Some are just wishes, and you know they’re never going to happen (like wanting the Falcons to make the Super Bowl), but others have a grain of truth.
When it comes time to buy a gift…all you have to do is check the list and choose one. Which means—and this will shock you—a vacuum cleaner is a perfectly legitimate gift if (and this is a big if) it’s something she really needs and has mentioned. You can give practical gifts. That’s fine. Just be sure that’s not all you give. At least one of the gifts has to be to her as your girlfriend. I don’t care how long you’ve been married; you have to keep dating.
A great gift does two things: first, it shows you’ve been paying attention. Second, it shows you know her. So, let’s think back…what has she said she really wanted this past year? Start there.
Now, what is it about her that makes her “her”? Is it her perfume? (Yes, you should know this.) Does she keep a journal? Does she give and give and never think about herself? Write down what makes her “her” in one sentence. Now, what gift best expresses or complements that? That’s what you give.
Does she collect anything? Jeannie loves Teddy Bears. A bear is always a winner.
You see, Christmas doesn’t always have to be a disaster. It doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety or stress. You can make Christmas work. All you have to do is listen a little bit, think a little bit, and then, do what you know to do.
But trust me, you can make the moment happen. You know the moment I’m talking about. The moment when she opens the present and realizes the care and thought that went into the gift and knows that no one knows her like you do—that no one loves her like you do.
It doesn’t matter what’s in the box. If she feels known and loved when she opens it, it’s a great Christmas!
OK, guys, listen up. Our wives are often that we (husbands) don’t help out around the house enough. I know, your wife doesn’t help you with your chores, but that’s another post. The purpose of this post is to share with you a way to help around the house while still paying attention to those things that matter to us such as league standings and potential playoff match ups. As a 35-year veteran of marriage, I’ve learned a few things, and I’m more than happy to share them with you.
So, how can a guy help around the house and still keep with his fantasy football team? Here are a few hints:
1. Wash Clothes
While your favorite team is playing, wash clothes. You can easily switch them from the washer to the dryer during commercials. During the course of a 3 1/2 hour game, you can get all of the washing, drying, and folding done. When your wife asks what you’re doing sitting on the couch on a Saturday afternoon tell her you’re doing laundry.
2. Make the Bed
Come on. You learned this in the army. When you get up, police the bedroom and make up your bed. That way, no matter how crazy the day gets, your wife will have one room in the house that’s reasonably clean that will serve as her sanctuary. Clothes on the floor or hanging from doorknobs will not improve her mood.
3. Take Care of Her Car
Every Saturday morning, get up and take your wife’s car to the car wash and get her oil changed as needed. For one thing, you need to drive her car at least once a week to see if the “Check Engine” light is on. (How long it’s been on is another story.) While you’re out, you can meet the guys for breakfast and coffee. Nothing makes you feel better than a good cup of coffee, solving all of the world’s problems, and driving home in a clean car.
4. Cook at Least One Meal a Week
And yes, grilling hamburgers counts! Master 2 or 3 of your favorite dishes—tacos, spaghetti, hamburgers—and tell your wife you’ll handle dinner on a particular night. My suggestion would be Monday night. That way, you can cook your favorite dish while you listen to the Monday Night Football preview and have a really good meal while the ball game is on.
5. Clean the Toilet
OK, no one likes this one, but let’s face it, most of the time a messy bathroom is our mess. I know she has her make up strewn across the counter. Ignore that. Make the porcelain shine, and she’ll always have at least one happy thought about you every day.
OK, I know the above is a little tongue in cheek, but guys, if you put a little thought into it, you can find small ways to help out around the house that will greatly improve your wife’s mood and as a result, greatly improve the quality of your marriage. It really isn’t that hard, and the payoff is well worth the effort!