Nancy Roman

O Christmas Pan!

I met my husband in November 1989.

By Christmas we were pretty much living together.  We weren’t kids – he was in his forties and I was thirty-eight. So we didn’t see much sense in taking it slow.

Over decades of dating I had learned one thing about love. You’re better off not expecting him to be perfect. Real love is not loving everything he does, but forgiving him for most of what he does.

The following year was the test.

Christmas 1990.  We had been together just over a year, and I was just six weeks away from my fortieth birthday.  These two events led me to conclude that my Christmas present would be an engagement ring. I was desperate sure.

And that Christmas morning we exchanged gifts.  I can’t remember what I gave him. But I remember what he gave me.

A roasting pan.

Oh yeah.

And that’s not all. It seems he did all his shopping in one store – a kitchen store.  I got dishtowels too.  And an apron.  Let me repeat. AN APRON.

I can’t even express how disappointed I was. I knew that he was a sweet guy, and didn’t mean to give me servant’s presents. He was actually excited about the pan. It was big. He likes big.

I smiled through it all, even though my jaw was beginning to hurt.

Then we went to his brother’s house for Christmas dinner. His brother had met his girlfriend about the same time my husband met me.

And guess what his brother’s girlfriend got for Christmas.

Oh yeah.

A diamond ring.

And she was twenty-six. I was thirty-nine. And what comes after thirty-nine?  It was bad enough to be a forty-year-old bride, but now I wasn’t even going to be a forty-year-old bride.

“We’re engaged!” That little bit…baby squealed.

That’s when I stopped smiling.

And later that evening, back at home…well, let’s just say I was slightly upset in a moderately loud way.

“You wanted a ring?” he asked, completely surprised.

Oh yeah.

It all ended well enough, I guess. I got my diamond ring six weeks later for my fortieth birthday. And we squeezed in a wedding before the end of the year (November 30, 1991 ) – so I didn’t have to be a forty-one-year-old bride.

My brother-in-law doesn’t even have that wife anymore.

And I have a diamond ring (a big one), and the same husband, and a roasting pan to boot.

But every Christmas, when I take the roast out of the oven, someone inevitably says, “What a great pan.”

I would recommend you not do that.


  1. Lisa

    LOL! Total doghouse moment.

  2. Hmmm, kitchen store or jewelry store?? I’m guessing your husband doesn’t have any sisters or surely he would’ve known better.

    • As a matter of fact, no – he doesn’t have sisters.

  3. My husband once bought me underwear for Christmas. It was two sizes too big. Enough said.

  4. What a great post. Was a nice way to start my morning. My husband (of 23 years) and I still laugh at the first Valentine’s Day gift he got me. He had to go last minute to the drugstore and brought home a little stuffed bear on a block (forever known to us now as the “bear on the block”). It was beyond tacky. Surprisingly, since then, he is by far the better gift giver and never forgets an event. Guess he hadn’t found his groove yet.

    Thanks for making me laugh!

  5. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    Reminds me of our second anniversary. I got an electric blanket. There was hell to pay! Once I explained clearly that we should buy what we need for the house and that gifts were for pleasure, it has gone well for the next 50 years. (Oops! 51. Our 53rd anniversary is this coming Tuesday.)

    • Talk to me...I'm your Mother

      Well, what’s up with that? I can’t add. It IS 52 years on Tuesday. And I can’t figure out how to remove that comment. Sign!

    • “Buy things we need; gifts are for pleasure” – what a nice (and clear) way to put it.

  6. RVingGirl

    Love this one…..I recall one Christmas after we were married when my husband bought me a full length mirror! yup! If he bought this for me today I would say he is hinting that I’d better use it BEFORE I leave the house but way back then he MUST have been thinking, Wow, she’s so fine, she should spend time checking herself out!!! ha ha ha
    Fun fun fun
    by the way the pan looks gorgeous and even sparkles a little?????

    • The pan is still beautiful after twenty years… but I’d rather not talk about it.

  7. I probably could have gotten excited about the roasting pan. Large vessels for food generally make me happy. But the apron? Oh, ouch! Glad it all worked out in the end, though. :-)

  8. My first husband always, always bought me an engraved Zippo lighter for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. I gues that would have been ok… if I smoked and had his initials. There was one exception though, that was the birthday that he bought the camera he had been drooling over for months. His comment was so he could take pictures of his beautiful wife. Did you catch that I said “first” husband?

  9. Okay–I can take a hint…when we all go to your place for dinner I will NOT comment about the lovely roasting pan you have! But I WILL express admiration for the huge ring you are wearing! Right? Right!

  10. I’m delighted that this story had a blingy ending, AND that you have the huge roasting pan, which is probably pretty useful. The best of both worlds!

    • By the way, just wanted to comment that I LOVE how skinny I look on your blog.

  11. Very humorous story!! It seems the jaw aches so much more, when it’s done to create a fake smile, than it does when it’s there as a real, from the heart smile!!!

  12. I loved this! Sometimes men need a good thump in the head with a big roasting pan. My husband had my ring for some time and kept it hidden forever. I practically had to come right out and say to him “Well? when is a good enough time to give it to me? How about now?!”

  13. Maybe the pressure of holiday gifting season just short circuits the brain? It seems to be common.

  14. I’m going to beg to differ. Well, not about the roasting pan. You might have considered using it to roast his vital organs if you weren’t such a nice person. But you are, and you didn’t. But still, it may be all for the best.

    My husband chose a ring for me once, for our 10th wedding anniversary, and gave it to me. Being sweet and wonderful I could not say that it was the ugliest piece of jewelry I had ever seen. After all, he had gone to all that trouble…jewelry and all … But that is for a full-blown post.

    I hope you got to pick out your engagement ring (I did) or at least pointed out what type you liked …

    • Can’t wait to read that post!

  15. My favorite line:

    “My brother-in-law doesn’t even have that wife anymore.”

    Glad it all worked out for you and you got a hilarious post out of it more than 20 years later!

  16. Laughing! My ex-husband (when we were still boyfriend/girlfriend) gave me a set of tires for Easter one year…..

    • A roasting pan is NOTHING compared to the romance of tires!

  17. FarmQueen

    Interesting how many of us have similar stories. What does that say about what knuckle heads men can be some time. They just need that two by four up side the head to get their attention. That being said, my “favorite” gift item from my MY ex-husband was a toaster. My mantra for women’s presents – they shouldn’t have a plug in.

    • We all have similar stories because they are all MEN. Women come in many different versions, but men only come in one model.

  18. My husband would never give me a roasting pan – because he knows he would have to hire a chef to go with it.

  19. One Christmas he bought himself, I mean ME, a mix master. That wasn’t funny either. He said I could could and he wanted to help. Yeah.

  20. I meant to say He said I could COOK

  21. My husband bought me a sewing machine after we had been married about five years. I was working 50+ hour weeks and I had never sewed in my life. I think that was the year he realized the whole June Cleaver thing was not going to happen.

  22. Nancy, that is sad and hilarious. I’ve been enjoying your blog and I wanted you to know you are included in my list of Versatile Blogger Award recipients! :-)

  23. I’m smirking. You always do that to me with your stories. :)

  24. LOL! Oh this is great. “A servent’s presents” cracked me up! So glad you got what you wanted in the end, and it really does look like a nice pan ;)

  25. Makes me think of the Christmas that my husband and I, without knowing, gave each other rings. He gave me a three diamond ring and I gave him his wedding ring resized. I will never forget the moment when we both handed each other ring boxes. The irony is, my ring now needs resizing.

  26. What a great story. Over 35 years ago, my lovely husband and the guy I was out with when I met my husband pooled their resources and bought me the item I wanted more than anything else – one of the first Cuisinarts imported to the US. (I am looking at it right now – just had to check the spelling.) It cost as much as a diamond ring in those days. Good times!

    • Now I am curious… your husband AND the guy you were out with????

      • OK, this is only going to make the story weirder – even though I was dating this guy, I would never marry him (and he knew it) because his family was too wealthy. (Four Rodins, including one of his Kiss. Uncle was afraid his view of the SF Bay could be blocked by the building next door, so he bought it. Not my world, nor the one I wanted for my kids.) Once, on a date with him, I met the man I eventually married. No hard feelings when I started dating my husband., and so they pooled resources and got me my Cuisinart for my next birthday.

        • Not weirder. Makes sense!

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