Paul Galvin: It's not the thought that counts
Listen up, fellas, says Paul Galvin. If you start paying attention now, you can get your girlfriend what she really wants for Christmas.
Listen up, fellas, says Paul Galvin. If you start paying attention now, you can get your girlfriend what she really wants for Christmas
A considerate boyfriend wants to buy his considerate girlfriend something considerate for Christmas.
Something meaningful and memorable.
They've been together for five Christmases now. And five birthdays. And five anniversaries. And every other kind of special occasion couples share.
To the point where the buying of gifts has become routine almost. Not meaningless, but they have begun to mean less.
She's got the watch, the ring, the earrings, the perfume, the spa treatment, the make-up, another watch to replace the first one which she broke, the weekend away, the holiday, the voucher...
Then one day, things come to a head and she goes quiet. Boyfriend asks her what's up. Girlfriend says nothing, it's fine, forget about it.
Silence reigns before she eventually admits her disappointment at receiving a voucher for her birthday.
And while she's on the subject, does he not know that the particular make-up he bought her for their anniversary makes her eyes sore? That she actually has an allergic reaction to it?
He didn't know that. Well, he'd know if he listened more, she concludes, and goes about her day feeling better now that's off her chest, if a little disappointed in boyfriend's lack of interest and consideration.
Boyfriend realises he needs to apply more imagination to future gift-buying exercises, so plumps for the iPhone, the Hurts concert tickets and the annual subscription to 'Elle' magazine for the next three special occasions they share.
Girlfriend positively glows. She gushes to her gal pals about boyfriend's extraordinary generosity and imagination.
Gal pals gush to their long- suffering men, who immediately feel inadequate and silently curse boyfriend for his brilliance, before rushing to find fault with him.
"Well, he really needed to pull something outta the bag didn't he, what with that time she got conjunctivitis from the make-up he bought her, eh? I mean, he coulda blinded her for life. What was he even thinking?"
Gal pal instantly recognises this as a lowdown, dirty, rotten attempt to discredit someone her man calls a friend, so as to mask his own raging insecurities and ineptitude. He does it every time he messes up.
You see, there is little loyalty between men when it comes to keeping their women happy. They literally will do or say anything to allow peace and quiet to flourish, to have an easy life.
Back to boyfriend. With Christmas fast approaching and having reached a climactic high point in the gift-buying with the 'Elle' subscription, where next?
I mean, she loves 'Elle' magazine and Joe Zee. He was her favourite character on 'The City', and even though Olivia Palermo was SUCH a bitch, it was hard not to love her style in it.
Meadham Kirchhoff, Proenza Schouler, Zac Posen, Mulberry, Rodarte -- the girl had a wardrobe to live for, never mind die for.
This got boyfriend thinking about how girlfriend loved her clothes. Not just any old clothes. She was a label freak with a eye for Maje. All Saints was her high street.
She was far too particular and stylish for him to go clothes shopping for her. That had the potential to blow up in both their faces. Although she did mention how she loved that Sandro jacket in BT2, but he didn't see it at the time so he couldn't be sure which one it was.
And he vaguely recalls her talking about a Zadig & Voltaire sweater in some shop or other, but again he couldn't remember where.
This was serious. Christmas was fast-approaching. If only he listened a bit more.
Then, one day, he overhears girlfriend talking on the phone to her sister about how much she would love some Crème de la Mer moisturiser, how she hears its supposed to be amazing for your skin, but like there's no way she'd spend €125 on that little container, even though she would reeeeally love some.
With that, boyfriend has a eureka moment and decides to buy her the Crème de la Mer for Christmas. He tried a local chemist, only to be told that it's stocked exclusively at Brown Thomas.
This is a problem. There's no way he's walking around the cosmetics department of BTs, examining products or, worse still, asking any of the very pretty staff any questions about moisturiser.
So he does what any self-respecting, shy Irishman would do: he rings 11811 and connects to BTs, gets put through to cosmetics, buys the Crème de la Mer over the phone with his credit card and tells girlfriend her Christmas present is a surprise.
The real beauty (don't pardon the pun) here is that her present is three-fold. The present itself is number one, the trip to BTs for a snoop is number two, and the fact that he got her something she really wanted by listening to her is number three.
This is, in fact, the real present. Attentiveness and caring. Girlfriend is giddy with excitement and sees boyfriend in a whole new light. Wait until she gushes to her gal pals.
Boyfriend is in so much golden credit he might even get on that trip to see the Arctic Monkeys in Madrid with the lads in January. Hell, she might even pay for it.
The moral of this short Christmas story is this: when buying a gift for your partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, this Christmas, it's not the thought that counts. It's not even how much you spend that counts.
It's the listening that counts.