Stuck in the Snow
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving kicks off the annual relationship freeze which lasts through the New Year. Much like government wage freezes that leave DMV workers and other civil servants with salaries stuck in 1973, the annual dating freeze cements you for three months in whatever relationship situation you happen to be in on November 15. Singles and couples everywhere can feel mid-November bearing down on them like tax day.
What does it mean? Well, if you’re single and dateless, it means you’re probably going it alone for the next few months. Sure, you’ll have to endure 7 or 8 hours of pitying glances and “So, are you seeing anyone?” at the holiday gathering, but at least it’s less agonizing than your Aunt Leona grilling you in front of grandpa about your sex life, or the new hottie you met on the Internet last week.
And if you’re in a less-than-fab relationship, well, you’re pretty much stuck until the holidays are over. There will be office parties and family gatherings to attend, and somehow your plans will propel you frenetically through the season like a goldfish down the toilet bowl. If you start to feel like you’re not going to be able to go the distance, reality will whack you on the head and you’ll realize you don’t really want to be known as the heartless jerk who ruined Christmas. Just the image of your current steady blubbering into the yams is enough to make anybody hunker down and endure a few more weeks as a couple (however unpleasant they might be.) Fortunately, before you know it, the whirlwind will die down and you’ll be whooshed smack-dab into the middle of January.
If it’s the thought that counts, what the hell were you thinking?
Assuming you’re in a relationship, even a new one, some sort of gift exchange is generally expected. With a budding romance, however, things are a bit more complicated, especially for women.
Men are generally terrified of holiday-induced coupledom and freak out at any sign the woman is trying to use the holiday freeze as a chance to create permanent status. So, how do you pick a gift that says “I like you and I’m thoughtful” without sending the message “I know we just met last week, but I’ve already started sneaking tampons into your medicine cabinet”? The key here is to give your guy a gift that would be suitable to give your boss. Think music, (no John Tesh, please,) sports stuff, (NOT his-and-her memberships to a gym,) or a new tie. Whatever you do, don’t give your guy part one of a set of ANYTHING. Otherwise, you might not be around to see his birthday/your two-month anniversary/groundhog day. Worse still, you might wind up stuck with parts 2-7 of whatever you had in mind for your sadly transparent romantic installment plan.
Say you’re in a long-term relationship, and you’re just biding your time until January. Well, there’s nothing that says, “I can’t wait to dump you” like a crappy or impersonal gift. Women who are in it ’till January will generally try to fake it and will give a gift that is not overly personal, but also not a clear indication of relationship doom. Men, however, frequently become affected by short-timer’s disease and end up giving reasonably-priced, gift-wrapped-in-the-shopping-bag, white-elephant-esque gifts that have been purchased at either the electronics store, or worse, the Gas-N-Go three blocks from your apartment.
A terrible gift has long been a sign of impending breakup. I’ve heard dozens of stories of three and four year relationships that ended bluntly following a bizarrely bad gift exchange. It wasn’t the gift that ended the relationship, it was merely a sign of things to come.
Of course, a bad gift doesn’t always have to mean your paramour is planning to dump you like last week’s spaghetti once January hits. It could just mean that your sweetie is madly in love with you, but has really horrific taste — and you can look forward to many, many years of individually-wrapped-in-cellophane roses, radio-controlled cars, sausage-of-the-month clubs and green plastic phones.
Hang in there kids, the thaw is coming soon.