We attribute our own particular values to the cost, thoughtfulness and desirability of a gift—values the giver may not even relate to. We buy into advertising’s message—“a diamond means forever,” or “say it with flowers,”—and in the absence of the right commodity, we may think that the right sentiment is missing. This is a trap made up of grandiose expectations and enormous misunderstandings, and wiggling out of it may mean thinking less about what we each need in order to feel loved and romanced, and more about what the relationship needs. Often, the best present two lovers can give each other is time and attention. There are many ways to create bubbles in time for two, and lots of fun approaches to filling it up with sexy, romantic gestures. A simple, self-made coupon booklet of intimate massages, fantasies fulfilled, and breakfasts in bed may say far more than merely plunking down a high-limit credit card.
Of course, deciding together to reject the commercial demands of the holidays and take a time out for the sake of your sanity is the perfect foil for holiday Grinches—including the dutiful and obligatory. Can you hear yourself say, “Sorry folks, friends, sibs ...we’re off to Tahiti. See you in January!" Now, isn’t that the sexiest holiday fantasy of all?