Tough love in air for Christmas

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer December 13, 2013 08:38 am

Go to any shopping mall. The closer it gets to Christmas, the tighter couples, especially older ones, the ones with many Christmases of experience, will hold hands.

Occasionally, a husband or wife will attempt a getaway. You’ll see a husband dragging behind a wife like a water skier behind a boat as she races to the latest sales on jewelry.  The husband needs a diamond ring?

You’ll see a wife dragging behind a husband as he races to the latest sales on monster trucks. The wife needs a truck?

Or check out the shopping mall parking lots. When the women make motions toward a store, the men often will take them in a bear hug and give them long, extended Al Gore-esque kisses.

Young people, mall Santas and Salvation Army bell ringers who witness such events make gagging motions with fingers in their mouths.

Romance is in the air? Well, maybe. 

Every year, Christmas shopping season kicks off earlier. This year, the season officially started after two weeks of daily double shopping practice in August. It’s the equivalent of preseason football practice, only involving quick-draw of credit cards from wallets and purses.

Yes, men participate in Christmas shopping daily doubles, too. After all, we have lists a mile long of family, distant relatives, friends, co-workers, postal delivery people, bakers, butchers and haircutters who deserve a gift, or at least a card or a phone call of thanks for not styling our hair in the memorable fashion of the Unibomber.

Older men, in particular, are more likely to try the hand-holding technique to prevent their budget from seeing red.

Red, though, is the color of Christmas. That and green, which is the color of money, of crisp bills snapping in the frosty air of the recent cold snap.

As Christmas nears, these tight-fisted holiday veterans even become philosophical. A man who normally only gets excited at checking out power equipment will begin quoting Ralph “Waldo” Emerson, who said, “The only true gift is a part of thyself.” But face facts. We have only so many parts of thyself to go around. And with family and friends scattered around the world, and only 24 hours off for Christmas in many cases, thy parts can only be in one place at one time.

Of course, some women are tight-fisted, budgetary heavyweights. And men, too, are capable of power shopping — and running up credit card debt. But most are not smart shoppers. They’ll
go to an outdoor store and buy shirts, size small, for everyone on their list, even if their family hasn’t had any small people since the Truman administration. 

Grandma will use hers for a doily.

Some family members, the nuts that fall off when the family tree is shaken, will hang theirs as a curtain only to find when they move, 15 years hence, that the temporary measure has become permanent.

Not all men shop fast. Some shop even faster. Their normal pace is to get in and get out before the front door of the business snaps shut. They’d rather be doing something fun, like draining gasoline from the lawnmower, or fixing a bathroom geyser.

The noise of Christmas also bothers men. They can’t wait to get away from the Christmas music pouring out of the mall loudspeakers so they can jump in their monster truck and roar off down the road.

Not all women shop slow. Some shop slower. Occasionally, families have to call search and rescue when a family member is overdue, perhaps watching a jewelry carousel go round, or sniffing the mesmerizing aroma of Cinnabon.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. The lights. The music. The sales. Men, especially those with years of experience in enduring the holiday, often use this time of year to get in touch with their romantic side.

If that involves holding hands tightly and Gore-esque smooches, so be it.

It’s a small price to pay for Christmas bliss.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.