I have learned a few good lessons about Christmas over the years and most of them pertain to what NOT to do, especially in relation to celebrating the holidays with a woman.

I always remember my dad’s number one rule in Christmas shopping was to never buy her anything that would create work. Even if it is a supposed time saving device that will shave hours off a particular task, his advice was to stay far away. So needless to say, as I was growing up, Mom never got an iron or crock pot or new vacuum or even a fancy toaster. Equally off limits were pots and pans or other kitchen gadgetry. This was a pretty good rule of thumb.

On his list of sanctioned items was anything that smelled good, so perfume and candles were often found under the tree. Seat covers, as he called them, were always a safe bet, the kind you buy from the local department store, however, and not the ones at AutoZone, but don’t cross the line into lingerie. Too self serving.

He did not prepare me for the year the woman brings up the idea to not exchange gifts with each other, with the reasoning that we can save money and spend it on something later, like a trip or such. I had to learn this one on my own, so I share my hard earned wisdom with you men out there in hopes that you don’t make the same mistake I did. And I will add that I have only made this mistake once.

I, foolishly, took this at face value, which was my first step down a rocky road leading to quicksand. Men, let me put the proverbial cookies on the bottom shelf and break it down for you like Mike & Mike with a lineup of Sunday NFL games

When she says, “Let’s not exchange gifts.” She doesn’t mean it literally. It does not mean that you don’t take the kids out shopping for Mom. Despite their age, Mom is not to be overlooked here. You could have an infant and there still needs to be something under the tree for Mom from Baby Junior.

This actually happened one year at our house at Christmas many years ago. Imagine my humiliation that morning as there were presents with a tag that said Dad and none that said Mom. In retrospect I should have taken inventory beforehand, but again, hindsight is 20/20.

Thankfully that was years ago, but there isn’t a holiday season that goes by that I don’t recall this blunder and remind young dads to watch out for that phrase. If you ever hear it, you know now what to do. It will save you a night out on the couch.

What I mean, not what I say