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The Red Umbrella

At least I gave him a neat royal blue sport shirt to match his beautiful blue eyes. But a red umbrella?

It was our seventh Christmas together. I know you are automatically thinking about the seven-year itch, but I like to call it the seven-year “switch.”

You see, after seven years of married life, I decided to switch things up a bit and call a truce on presents.

As perfect a husband as Chuck is, he has never been great at shopping for presents for me or anyone else in the family, including for his mom, so I took over the duties of buying for everyone else, while he continued handling items for me for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

I must admit there were a few winners over the years!

Yet one of the craziest but loving things he ever got for me was a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret for Valentine’s Day. I guess I should feel incredibly flattered to think that Chuck thought there might be something there that would fit me.

Okay, I’m not obese, but there was not a single piece of underwear or outwear there that could fit a voluptuous body.

Maybe he was trying to tell me that he was sick and tired of me wearing flannel nightgowns or baggy tee shirts when I lounged around the house.

Either way, I gave the gift certificate to my sister who was thrilled to be able to buy more sassy black lace thongs to add to her collection. (Heck, I don’t even know what the purpose of those things are as they “barely” cover anything!)

And then there were birthday gifts that did not fit or styles and colors that were awkwardly not my thing at all!

Besides, we were both getting to a point where if we needed something for ourselves, we would each just go out and buy it on our own.

So, I called a truce. I suggested that we skip buying presents for each other and put the money towards two great vacations each year instead, and he was equally thrilled with that idea. I knew I was doing both of us a favor.

However, we agreed to buy each other something worth $25 to put under the Christmas tree since we were with other family members opening their gifts on Christmas morning.

That’s when “the red umbrella” showed up under the tree. Yes, you heard me. A red umbrella! It was one of those compact ones that fit into your purse, not very romantic for sure. My sister and her husband laughed their heads off. Even mom and dad giggled trying not to insult Chuck. At least I gave him a neat royal blue sport shirt to match his beautiful blue eyes.

But a red umbrella?

The next day, Chuck brought the topic up.

“If you want to bring the red umbrella back to the store, I still have the receipt.”

I quickly replied, “Of course not. It just wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as I might expect at Christmas.”

That’s when Chuck set me straight.

He said he thought it was a great gift because he knew I had a cute red raincoat, and the last time he saw me in the rain I had a black umbrella that was large and bulky. He said when he watched me trying to balance it with my overstuffed handbag, a smaller more compact umbrella came to his mind.

I was heartsick to think the family and I razzed him not only on Christmas morning but also all day long about it and he was such a good sport and took it in stride.

How many husbands notice their wife’s raincoat or know the color of it?

With that, I kissed him and thanked him for the lovely gift. And it was then and there that we agreed to skip giving presents totally including Christmas and add to the vacation fund instead.

And you know what? I still have that red umbrella thirty years later but unless I am wearing my red raincoat, I don’t take it with me because I am so afraid I might lose it. It is more precious to me than you can imagine.

My red umbrella reminds me that what I thought at the time was a very thoughtless gift, turned out to be one of the most THOUGHTFUL gifts of all.

Merry Christmas, Chuck. I adore you.

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