Z: Do you remember what we used to say to our child when he was little?
She: Stop kicking your cousins?
Z: No. Your clever little nursery rhyme: “Peek-a-boo, I love you, you are only half-a-Jew.”
She: Sometimes I can’t suppress my inner poet. Why do you ask?
Z: I think of it every year in the middle of the Hanukkah/Christmas shopapalooza frenzy.
She: Where are you going with this? Are you thinking that our silly little, 600-word, weekly column is the perfect place to open up a dialogue on interfaith marriage and religious tolerance?
Z: Not so much, especially when ours is more of an interfaithless marriage. I was going more with how odd our kid is about presents, especially given how many opportunities he gets for them.
She: I can get behind that.
Z: Here’s an only child of middling means who’s never once in his life made a Christmas, Hanukkah or birthday list. He has at least nine Hanukkah opportunities, and two big possibilities for Christmas and his birthday, and he never asks for a single specific thing. Who does that?
She: A child who has everything.
Z: But he doesn’t. Especially not compared to his various Hope Ranch and Montecito friends.
She: He has a computer and a phone, which is pretty much all any 13-year-old boy wants. And he doesn’t even use his phone.
Z: But he’s always been this way about presents. I couldn’t believe it when both we and his grandmother asked him what he wanted for Christmas/Hanukkah. He answered in his faux-teen-angst whine, “Oh, my gosh! Stop pressuring me!”
She: He was trying to be funny.
Z: And he was. But he also truly doesn’t have that many wants. It seems to me that corporate and advertising America have completely failed him.
She: Other than computers and phones, I have no idea what any young, teen boy wants. Obviously somebody out there needs to create some more useless crap and convince boys that they need it.
Z: Girls at least get clothes and accessories. Maybe we should make him super label conscious. At least we’d have an easier time picking stuff out for him then.
Z: I’m just saying. The downside of having a kid who’s not that materialistic is trying to buy him gifts.
She: He is kind of like an old man when it comes to presents. And by old man, I mean he’s kind of like you.
Z: Yeah, but I’m that way because if I want something and I can afford it, I’ll buy it for myself.
She: With his gigantic pile of babysitting money, he’s starting to get that way, too.
Z: But he never spends his money.
She: Do you think it could be because you keep telling him everything he wants to buy is stupid?
Z: All a part of my carefully thought out financial planning education for him.
She: He’s screwed.
Z: At least he’s not like you were with your iPhone on your birthday.
She: One little gift, that’s all I asked for, and you took forever to order it.
Z: Which you reminded me of every day.
She: Peek-a-boo, I love you, where’s my freakin’ iPhone?
Z: That was the nice version.
She: It’s only because I’m helpful that way. I want to give you the chance to be the best husband you can be.
Z: Wow. That’s the perfect gift.
She: Not to mention a growth opportunity.
Z: So are you going to nag our son altruistically, to give the boy the chance to be the best son he can be?
She: Not just on holidays. Every day for the rest of his life. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
Z: Yes, dear.
— What do you want for Christmas/Hanukkah? Share your list with She and Z by emailing email@example.com. Follow She and Z on Twitter: @lesliedinaberg. Click here for previous She Said, Z Said columns.