Top Ten Things MIlitary Spouses Want For Christmas

A soldier gives a gift
A soldier assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s Sustainment Brigade delivers donated gifts to families. (U.S. Army/Spc. Elsi Delgado)

What does your spouse want for for a holiday gift? We asked group of Army spouses to lay out a top ten list of what women want for Christmas. Instead, we got a list of what women do NOT want for Christmas: Incense. Handkerchiefs. Fake jewelry.Christmas sweaters. Toiletries. Used Items. Socks. Knock-offs.

The list kind of fell flat with the crowd. Which is always so revealing. When I found myself reviewing this list this week, I wondered if there was a better list of what women DO want for Christmas. Here is what we came up with:

1.We want you to be home. Yes, we understand that you have to be deployed this year or that you have to stand the duty Christmas Day or you will be AWOL. We don’t want you to feel a load of guilt for being gone during the holidays. And we don't want you to go to jail after spending time with us, so the AWOL option is out. We just want you to know -- really KNOW -- what a central part of our lives you are and how nothing is the same without you here.

2. We want your wonder. If you are home this year, we want you to look around and feel a little awe. Look at these kids we have. They aren’t just bundles of snarling, oozing, gritty, sobbing, snotty mess. This time of year, drag us into our sleeping child’s bedroom to wonder over them -- how amazing they are, how fast they grow.

3. We want your respect. The older spouses get, the more they realize they have to SAY WHAT THEY WANT. Some spouses really don’t want anything under the tree -- they would rather spend money on the kids. Or they don’t want a sweater, they’d rather have a night alone with you at a good hotel. Or they don’t want you to spend into oblivion, but to stay in the budget. If we actually say what we want, get it on a voice memo. Then run with it.

4. We want your ‘good enough.’ Lots of times guys get so caught up in making sure that they do not make a mistake that they put off the decision on what to buy. So they wait until the last minute and wrap up whatever is left in the stores. Buy early. Get it done. Sometimes good enough really is good enough.

5. We want you to use our list. If your spouse gives you a list, use it. She loves you. She knows you are busy. She knows you hate shopping. So she made a list on Amazon or Pinterest and sent it to you. Pick three things off that list. And reread tip four above.

6. We want to feel beautiful. Give us something you think we would look/feel/smell pretty in. Then write on the card “Because you are beautiful.”

7. We want to feel smart. Put something under the tree that demonstrates that you know we are smart -- a book, a subscription, an iPad mini. Write on the card “To the smartest woman I know.”

8. We want to feel like the most awesome parent on the planet. Give us whatever and write on the card that you weep when you think of how lucky our children are to have such a mother.

9. We want things from stores we like. Go to your credit card statement and see where your spouse shops most. Buy something from that store.  Nine times out of 10 you will score. Or at least make returns easy.

10. We want a shared experience. Christmas gifts are nothing compared to the life we share. We spouses spend so much time alone that when you are home we want to share something beyond watching “Dancing With the Stars.” So please help finish the kitchen clean-up so that we can walk around the block under a sky full of stars. Let's get in the car and look at Christmas lights. Let's go to bed early, light a couple of candles and think tidings of Wonder. And joy.

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