Merry Christmas . . . Yeah, I have the receipt. Why? | Ted McLyman dot Com

Merry Christmas . . . Yeah, I have the receipt. Why?

Nothing says Merry Christmas, and I love you, like pre-packaged food from a major national restaurant chain. I know, because I’ve just been to the mall, and guys are lined up buying this stuff.

I bet there are going to be lots of happy gals come Christmas morning when they get these special gifts.

Can you feel the anticipation? I can. I envision packages of beef jerky, barbecue wings, and assorted processed meats and cheeses being opened and shared with excited family members—a holiday tradition for many, I’m sure.

This is a tough time of year for most guys. Most of us are not shoppers. I know you find this hard to believe, but it’s true. I know we have no problem buying stuff for ourselves. And many of us can spend hours at Bass Pro Shops or the guy’s end of the mall–Sears (electronics, hardware and tool department). But that’s different.

It’s not that we don’t care about giving the perfect gift–we do. It’s just that the pressure of getting the “right” gift wrong is so great. This makes us afraid–very, very afraid.

Giving us a list doesn’t help much. If we buy from the list it isn’t a surprise, or that “something special” just for you. If it’s too practical–like paying down a credit card bill, a month of cable TV, car wash package, oil change, or other cool stuff, it doesn’t count. Plus, guys think generic, women think name brand. Even the color of the box can make a difference—Tiffany’s versus Kay’s. Same stuff, different reaction. Go figure?

Take something as simple as hand cream. We look at your list. Hand cream jumps off the page. We think, “How difficult can this be? They sell it by the gallon at Sam’s.”

Being the sensitive guy, tempered by experience,  we know instinctively that nothing from Sam’s will work. So we decide to go to Bath and Body Works and get something special. Bad move.

As soon as we enter the store we are overpowered by the sights, sounds, and smells of creams and soap! Who knew there were so many kinds of skin cream–dry, oily, old, young, young wanting to be old, old wanting to be young, sensitive skin, non-perfumed, hypo-allergenic, rejuvenating and undecided. And this stuff is made of all kinds of crazy stuff–fruits, veggies, salts, dirt, grass, rocks, grains, and things I can’t pronounce.

All the pictures around the store are of absolutely perfect people–goddesses. We know immediately that we are in the right place. That’s why there’s a line of guys 20 deep trying to buy this stuff.

Now, no good  deed goes unpunished. Each store has a very nice good-looking young lady at the entrance of the store herding guys to a common point in front of a display of the current “gotta have” gift.

To be honest, we’re a pathetic lot. Just, a group of guys with sticky notes in hand blankly staring at a wall of multi-colored tubes, jars, containers, and pump dispensers of, well, hand cream, trying to do the right thing.

Hand cream is all the same to us. We know we could have bought it at Sam’s, but this is a special occasion. We need to get it right. We also know that as good a deal the two gallon pack of hand cream is, life as we know it would cease about noon on the 25th if we had bought the year’s supply of the stuff.

So we do what every guy does in a situation like this. Our brains stop working. We either buy everything the pretty girls tells us to buy or, our heads explode, and we run away. Either way we survive to fight, or shop, another day.

Here’s the problem. Our brains are only good for two things. Keeping us alive and passing on the genes.  Shopping is not a high priority. We know if we screw this up–as we have in the past–our emotional lives will be in jeopardy, and passing on the genes will likely be a non-starter.

Emotional pain–getting it wrong–hurts about 5 times more than the feel-good emotions of getting it right. Therefore, we are more concerned about getting it wrong than getting it right–even when we know we got it wrong, but not very wrong.

The danger of going for the gusto and getting it very wrong is greater than playing it safe and getting it only a little right–or wrong, depending on your point of view.

So this holiday, please take pity on the poor guy standing in line buying packaged meats, gift cards, snuggies, oil changes and car wash packages. It’s not that we don’t care. We just aren’t wired to do much better.

Merry Christmas!  I am off to the Mall.  By the way, save your receipts because it’s all going back–just like last year.  See you in line!  Wave if you see me.

Money Made Personal – Ted