It’s Black Friday and this ‘Fox & Friends’ co-host has a few stories to share about gift-giving

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On this Black Friday weekend—now that I have the knowledge of 65 Thanksgivings, I know for a fact that handling the upcoming holiday is all about planning.

My wife, Cathy, makes lists and goes over every detail carefully. She does most of her shopping before Thanksgiving, with most last-minute shopping done on Black Friday, a month before Christmas.

Me, I always plan to go shopping on Christmas Eve. But I don’t really shop; I believe in the shiny object syndrome, and in the past if something caught my eye I would buy it, and buy it fast.

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Remembering how excited my mom was when my dad bought her a revolutionary new microwave oven, I was looking for that kind of feeling when I proudly bought the latest Amana radar range microwave for our first married Christmas. .

By Christmas morning, Cathy was curious about what was in the big box under the tree. I was expecting a big response – but only “Oh. A popcorn machine.” And that’s all he said.

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When Cathy’s birthday came around a few months later, I asked her bluntly what she wanted. She remained evasive until I mentioned that she was unimpressed with her Christmas microwave.

“When I opened the box,” she said, “the message to me was, Merry Christmas, here’s a microwave, now make me something to eat – quick, like a pound of bacon.” I put my head down, sorry to have disappointed my new wife, while also strangely craving a grain of bacon.

To this day the only caveat I have about buying Cathy a gift is that it may not have a power plug, because the last thing she said on the subject was, “Unless Hermes has a small-appliance department.” Opens – forget it!” She was joking…I think.

Remember that book, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”? That was the year I realized I was from Best Buy, Kathy was from Bloomingdale’s.

So I turned to clothing. But women’s sizes are confusing, and not wanting to spoil the surprise by asking her the size, I ask for help when I get to the store.

One Christmas Eve I was standing in a really nice store — well, the store closest to the parking lot — and told the salesperson I liked a particular mid-calf coat. “What’s your wife’s size?” she asked, to which I honestly said, “Don’t know. But that’s about your height!” She then assumes that she is Cathy’s size and moves around the merchandise. “It should fit her perfectly!” I paid and was out of the store in six minutes.

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The next morning when Cathy opened the box, “Funnnassi!” she said when she saw the designer label. It was better than I imagined! Then she took the coat out of the box – and was surprised at how many coats were in it. It was eight sizes too big. To make a point, Cathy had two children standing beside her, and she wrapped the coat around all three of them, emptying the room. Feelings hurt, Cathy avoided eye contact and rarely spoke to me directly, except through the kids, until Valentine’s Day. “Tell your father that Cupid is dead.”

Word to shoppers—When in doubt about a person’s size, always buy smaller.

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(Steve Dokey/William Morrow)

Our next-door neighbor, Mike, and I had the same gifting trajectory early in our marriage. He also loved practical gifts and presented his wife, Judy, with a wide range of Rubbermaid or Tupperware food storage containers and totes. His wife always used them, but it’s not like she bragged to her friends, “When you take the top off, you don’t have to let the air out!”

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That all changed when Mike devised a game plan weeks earlier and attacked a jewelry store on the upper level of our local mall. Even though it was Christmastime, he was in and out in less than fifteen minutes. When Judy opened the little jewelry box, she paused for a moment, and exclaimed, “I love it! I love you!” To mark their twentieth anniversary, he had given her a very valuable and dazzling diamond and sapphire ring.

I thought I’d never hear the end of it from Kathy. “I wonder what Mike will buy me for my birthday?” She used to taunt me, “Oh, I know – jewelry!”

For me and the other husbands in our neighborhood, living next door to the husband of the year was not easy. Judy was overjoyed and proudly wore her ring constantly, reminding everyone how thoughtful, kind, and wonderful her husband was.

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A year later, when Christmas came, the whole neighborhood was curious how Mike would pass up the last incredible gift. On Christmas morning, he presents Judy with a small bag from the same jewelry store he had given her the previous year. Judy couldn’t believe her good fortune – who says lightning can’t strike twice? Inside, another velvet black box—just like the year before. Opening it quickly, she closed her eyes with a stunning ring that took her breath away.

Positively glitzy and very expensive – just like a year ago. In fact, it was exactly the same diamond and sapphire number he had given her a year earlier.

Thinking it was a practical joke—that he had put last year’s ring in the box and re-gifted it—Judy looked at his hand, and it was the same ring from last year. Suddenly he had two.

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Judy shook her head in disbelief. The next day Mike had to do what I had done many times before – he returned the gift to the store, explaining to the manager, “It looked familiar.”

After being married for 36+ years, my Christmas gift-giving planning is now incredibly simple, because Kathy buys presents for all the kids (from both of us) – I only have to buy presents for one person: Kathy. In November our youngest daughter Sally will start asking me what I think her mother would have wanted.

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She’ll also see what’s out there and note down ideas from what Cathy says in their daily phone chats. Sally, like Kathy, is very organized—which is why about ten years ago I deputized Sally to order all of Kathy’s gifts. She sends them to our house and then carefully carries them to her bedroom, where she wraps them all up.

Then, on Christmas morning, I just smile and nod as Cathy gleefully opens presents that are technically from me — although as she opens them, it’s often the first time I’ve laid eyes on them. .

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I love Christmas!

happy shopping. If you’re lucky, you have a Sally too—she’s a gift!

Adapted from the special Walmart edition of “The Simply Happy Cookbook,” the new book by Steve and Cathy Dokey. Click to get your copy Here, Used by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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