The Perfect Present, Duh! Adventures in Gift Giving

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

Last week we celebrated my wife’s birthday by installing a new furnace in the house. I even put a red bow on it.

She was not impressed.

After mentioning on Facebook that we were installing a new furnace on the coldest day of the year and that it was going to be Nancy’s birthday present, it resulted in some hoots plus some similar stories that were too good not to share.

Mary Murray of Lander said her husband bought her a chainsaw for her birthday one year.  She threatened to buy him a sewing machine on his birthday.

Dewey Vanderhoff up in Cody suggested if I am buying Nancy a furnace for her birthday, perhaps a diesel log splitter might be the perfect Christmas gift?

Lander native Cathy Sasso Wike said her dad Nick bought his wife Charlene a shotgun one year.

Dave Langerman said he did the same thing; only he enrolled his wife in a self-defense shooting course.  “Ended up costing me a $1,000 in new guns and hardware.”

Helen Higby of Lander recalls: “After a car accident that left me with my pelvis broken, I was tied to the bed in the hospital. In came my husband Larry, packing my birthday present - a new Winchester .243. It wasn't in a box or covered with wrapping paper. A cowboy carrying a rifle is just so normal in Wyoming that it didn't raise a single eyebrow.”

Nancy Berry of Casper said one year she got a new sewer line for her birthday. “At least I got to brag that John spent $5,000 on me!”

Not sure what my accountant Dean McKee was thinking but his wife Kathy says he once bought her a wheelbarrow for Mother’s Day.

Up in Buffalo, Jim Hicks had this recollection. “I remember the first Christmas after we were married back in October of 1957.  I had always believed in practical gifts.  So I bought a new dish-drying rack to sit next to the sink, a most modern dust pan with a leading edge made of soft rubber, a broom of far greater quality than the old one which came with our cheap basement apartment and tossed in a few dish towels and dish rags to make certain Mary realized the great effort I had made to buy perfect Christmas gifts.

“All I can say is that I came close to not celebrating Christmas with her again, but after 56 years of buying "non-practical" gifts, it appears I survived that first error in judgment.”

Pat Schmidt of Thermopolis recalls: “I remember getting into trouble when I had the waitress bring out a covered platter for Emily on our anniversary. Since she comes from a family of wood butchers (carpenters) she was delighted when the waitress lifted the cover up and revealed her new power saw. All the other customers gave me trouble because they thought it was for me.” 

Nancy Anselmi in Rock Springs says she had to get this gift giving corrected soon after her husband Mark gave her a new Kirby vacuum sweeper for Mothers Day.

U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi says: “In my DC office I have one of the first fiberglass fly fishing rods. It has fiberglass strands wrapped in fiberglass tape. My grandpa used to spend a lot of energy picking out gifts for my grandma. This rod was one of those gifts. Of course, grandpa was the only one I ever saw use it! I told my wife Diana about his effort and thought and uniqueness of the gift. She assured me it wasn't going to happen between us. It hasn't.”

Dave Simpson of Cheyenne says: “I have never bought my wife anything that she enjoyed more than the Christmas I bought her a robot vacuum cleaner. She even named it - Sparkle. I've never seen her so excited.”

Matthew Brasmer, the VP of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, has a splendid idea for a great Christmas or birthday or anniversary present in honor of your loved ones. Reports Matt, “A group of Wyoming investors want to help our college. They have agreed to match gifts dollar-for-dollar between now and Dec. 31.

“So, why not give a gift in honor or in memory of someone special because right now it has double the impact. Gifts can be made at the College’s website: I think that this is such a great idea,” he concludes.

Sounds like a good (and practical) gift idea for this time of year.


Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at

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