Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 11.25.02
Quebec City


A strange kind of Gift of the Magi

It's that time of year again. It's time to hide all the catalogues in the house.

It's time to hide the love of my life's charge cards. It's time to conveniently stuff her debit card down the back of the sofa.

No, she's not a spendthrift. Far from it. She's probably more fiscally responsible than I'll ever be.

Think of it more as a pre-emptive strike. A sort of gift-buyer's Pearl Harbor.

I merely want to immobilize her shopping power long enough for me to get her Christmas presents.

I've learned from experience.

In the past I've been snookered on half a dozen occasions.

This is the way it goes.

I finally figure out the ideal gift - a difficult task at the best of times - and low and behold she buys it six days before Christmas.

One year in particular, we ended up in a strange modern day version of O'Henry's "Gift of the Magi."

I bought her -- among other things -- a new toaster. It was the deluxe model. It had four slots with individual settings, special adjusting wires for bagels, and a manual pop-up button.

You could do just about everything but drive it to work.

But, as usual, two days after I made the purchase, the old toaster gave up the ghost.

I caught her stomping out of the apartment in high dudgeon on her way to the appliance store.

There was no way around it. She got the toaster, unwrapped and five days early.

Mind you, it sort of worked out since I was heading to the store to buy a new wallet.

She saved me the trip by giving me my gift, unwrapped and five days early.

There's also the dreaded problem of doubling up.

You see, we have two residences. One in Sherbrooke and one in Quebec City.

She spends most of the time in the former and I spend the bulk of my time in the latter.

And I'm a little bit loathe to buy her something she might like to use around the house if I already have one.

You see, despite our unusual living arrangements, we'd like to believe we'll eventually end up in the same abode once again -- even if it's only to share pension cheques. And we already have two of just about everything from TVs to vacuum cleaners. From garlic presses to meat tenderizers. From food processors to tea kettles.

So there you have it.

Short of giving her a list of things not to buy before December twenty-fifth -- which sort of removes the element of surprise -- I'm stuck with keeping her out of the stores entirely.

And that could be self-defeating 'cause if she can't shop for herself, she can't shop for me either.