Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Perfect Gift

Christmas is just days away! Are you ready?

Christmas shopping can be incredibly stressful, but overall I really enjoy picking out gifts for people. Well, most people. The one exception to this rule is my dear husband. The most difficult people to shop for are the ones who tell you, "Oh, I'd like anything! I'm easy!" And that's exactly what Paul says: "Surprise me! I'll love anything! You know I'm not picky!"

The thing is, he is kind of picky. Actually, he's very picky and quirky about what he likes. But he just doesn't know it until something he most certainly did not want is staring him in the face. But ask him ahead of time what he does want in order to spare him disappointment and he's really not sure what to say!

Each year, I'm tempted to put bows on our children and tell Paul, "I've already given you the greatest gifts you can ask for!" But I'm worried one of them will have an accident or talk back or something and spoil the whole charade. Plus, Paul is a materialistic little miser and enjoys getting stuff.

For our first Christmas, I hit the gift-giving out of the park by buying Paul a pair of slippers. He wore them every day from the moment he got home from work until the tread wore down so badly that I got him a new pair seven years later. Since then, it's been slightly downhill and most of the things I buy for Paul get returned or used as an expensive closet placeholder. And I normally think REALLY hard about what to get him. Some of the gifts I look back on and wonder why I thought they would be such a good idea, like the miniature ping-pong table. I have no clue why I thought he would like that. Neither did he. He unwrapped it and looked at me with a confused expression and said: "I don't get it."

There were other things that I thought he legitimately wanted. One such example was that time Paul pined for a miniature Keurig that was introduced the year that k-cup brewers really started becoming popular. I saw that Kohl's was having an incredibly sale on them that lasted only four hours on a single day. They also noted that the number of coffeemakers they had in stock were very limited. I bundled a then-baby Matthew up and took him out to Kohl's in the middle of snowstorm while Paul worked late at GE. I managed to snag the very last one they had in stock and then waited in line for nearly two hours to purchase it while Matthew whined and complained. I was so proud of myself for finding such a great sale and for actually securing one of the coveted Keurigs! Then, Christmas morning came and Paul opened his gift and then told me that he had done the research and had determined that Keurigs just keep accruing costs because you have to keep buying the pods and it wasn't worth it to him. So back to the store it went.

Then there was the Christmas when I bought Paul a hand held back massage machine thingy. He was always asking me for backrubs and I figured this way he could do the work himself. He looked pretty freaked out when he opened it and mistakook it for a shower head at first. I tried to explain my logic but could tell by how high his eyebrows remained stuck to the top of his forehead that he wasn't thrilled with it. Come to think of it, that might have been purchased the same Christmas as the miniature ping-pong table. I must have been pregnant or slightly out of my mind in some other way because that was obviously not a great year for me.

After sharing with you some of my gift giving blunders with Paul, let me tell you about a time where I truly gave Paul what he wanted for Christmas. That was the year that I gifted Paul with 50 pounds of salt. And this was by his request.

Paul had become curious about the new fad of cooking on a salt block. Large blocks of Himalayan Pink Salt were being sold and marketed as having wonderful cooking properties due to its ability to retain very high temperatures of heat, making it a great tool for simultaneously searing and flavoring meat, vegetables, or what have you. When I heard that Paul was interested in this, I thought he was just plain crazy. But, I didn't really have any better ideas so I ordered a large block of salt off of Amazon along with a cookbook to guide Paul in his cooking journey and it was easily one of the least researched yet bet received presents I have ever given anyone. Paul was thrilled. The first thing he made with that block of salt was some ice cream. That was no bueno. He followed up that failure with some seared scallops and shrimp. Those were fantastic.

A block of salt. Who would have thought?

Since receiving that gift, Paul has served many good meals from his salt block. A few bad ones here and there as well, but that salty ice cream will always be the absolute worst. The other day, Lucy requested quesadillas for dinner and Paul decided to break out the salt block again and host an unconventional dinner spread: Build-Your-Own-Quesadillas-on-a-Salt-Block!

We had all the trimmings for quesadillas arranged: the avocado, the cheese, the chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onions, salsa, and chips! Paul had the salt block heat up in a 400 degree oven for two hours (it takes a while to get it fully hot - but once it's heated, it stays hot for hours!). Then, we brought the hot salt block to the table and set it in the center. Everyone was able to assemble their quesadillas and then melt the cheese and sear the outside of the tortilla on the salt block. They were delicious and the kids had a blast cooking their own dinner right at the table!

I guess the whole point of this blog post is that if you, like me, are never quite sure what to get your significant other for Christmas, consider a salt block. Maybe they are a weirdo like my husband and will absolutely adore it! Then you can make your own salty ice cream in the comfort of your own home! If that isn't an incentive to buy one, I don't know what is!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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