But I was slightly annoyed by this post of Taylor Marshall's titled "Top 10 Manly Christmas Gifts for Your Dad or Husband." And that annoyance was building in the way it does in a redhead's brain, so that I finally decided to write about it and get it over with (see sidebar for relevant Mason Cooley quote).
Marshall's list contains the following items in this order:
- an "old school" shaving razor, complete with badger hair brush;
- pipe and tobacco;
- boots (the cowboy variety, not the winter snow sort);
- a "nice leatherbound pocket Bible";
- a "nice durable rosary" which wives will probably have to make from components bought at a Manly Hardware Store;
- a gun (the real kind);
- Homebrewing kit;
- a meat smoker;
- a pocket knife
Hmm. Where to begin?
I could start with the obvious point, which is that unless oral cancer is now a manly virtue (to say nothing of lung cancer and other ills), wives who actually love their husbands won't buy them pipes and tobacco--especially if they are presently non-smokers. There seems to be a subset of Catholic guys, though, who think that just because the Old Great Catholic Writers smoked pipes and wrote movingly of the pipe's virtues, somehow the humble pipe (unlike the filthy cigarette) will magically avoid being a carcinogenic agent. That is not the opinion of most medical professionals, however; even occasional tobacco use can lead to no small number of rather nasty side effects, so this is one "manly" gift that doesn't really make the cut.
Then, too, there's the question as to whether a gun is really a necessity--or whether this is, depending on one's locale, even a legal gift to give someone. Sure, any number of people who enjoy hunting are responsible gun owners; others who use guns for protection but who are cautious about leaving the weapon where children can get hold of it are also responsible gun owners. But considering the alarming statistics about children and gun accidents, it's not necessarily unmanly for a gentleman to decide not to own a gun when there are many small people living in or regularly visiting his home.
The main problem with the other gifts on the list (aside from the fact that not every gentleman will want a meat smoker or a homebrewing kit) is the cost. Only three of the gifts on the list, the pocket Bible, the homemade rosary, and the pocket knife, cost less than fifty dollars. Most of the other gifts start in the seventy dollar price range, and the cowboy boots and Kindle are approximately $130 to $140 apiece. Topping the list is that meat smoker at just under $200.
Now, I have a feeling that if I were to write a blog post titled "Top Ten Truly Feminine Gifts for your Wife or Mother" and include a $130 handbag, a $140 bottle of perfume, or a $200 bracelet, and then list four more gifts in the seventy dollar and up price range while insinuating that the "usual" gifts of music cds, scarves or gloves or slippers, or perhaps a festive Tupperware (tm) set were "lame" or "generic"--well, I think that gentlemen readers would, quite rightly, cry foul. It is not, after all, very difficult to buy one's spouse a truly "manly" or "womanly" gift if one's gift budget permits the purchasing of a couple of rather expensive items. It is much more difficult to accomplish the same thing on one income and after having purchased gifts for one's children and relatives and co-workers; it is much more difficult to come up with satisfactory presents for one's husband--or one's wife--when money is tight and the budget for indulgences is severely limited.
Many Catholic families, blessed with many children and struggling to live on one income in a time when employment continues to be perilous and costs continue to rise, will see in Marshall's list not a helpful collection of gift items for husbands and fathers, but a fantasy comprised of items too expensive for the average person to afford. I myself find the list illustrative of a certain masculine mindset that sees value only in rather expensive gifts and is inclined to be dismissive of items of lesser cost (no matter the amount of love put into their purchase) as "lame" or "generic." So unless materialistic self-indulgence is also a new masculine virtue, I think this list is one that would have been better had somebody checked it twice.