Before we were married in 1993, my ex-husband Robert was honest about his limitations. “I’m not a romantic,” he would often say. Also, “I’m not into gift-giving.”

Caveat Emptor.

I married him anyway.

Despite his warnings, I wasn’t prepared for my first Chanukah gift — a long granny gown made of blue-and-red plaid flannel. Upon opening the package, I burst into tears.

“You don’t like it?” said my new husband.

“Is this how you think of me?” I asked, already feeling guilty for showing my disappointment.

“You’re always cold. I wanted you to be cozy,” Robert explained.

That was sweet, right? And I was cozy. With every washing, my plaid granny gown became softer and more comfortable.

I wore it until it was threadbare. Over the years, these ugly nighties became a thing with us. They became uglier and uglier, though none were as well-loved or well-worn as the one I received on that first Chanukah.

Though I came to appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the nightgowns, I was still caught off-guard by my ex-husband’s extreme practicality when, several years later, I opened another gift box and found — to my shock and horror —a Swiffer.

Yes, a glorified dust-mop that came with extra mopping pads.

Was this a joke?

Apparently, yes, since my ex stood there laughing when he saw the smile frozen on my face. In all fairness, the Swiffer wasn’t my only gift that Chanukah. There was also some perfume, or maybe it was a pair of earrings.

Regardless, it was the Swiffer that stayed with me — literally and figuratively — until it would be replaced by a newer model a decade later.

Then, as now, my ex’s remarkably un-romantic gifts made for good stories. And though he probably meant well, his gifts said a lot about his feelings for me. They also say a lot about why he’s my ex-husband.

Still, Robert remains my co-parent, friend and a damn good sport. After all, he allowed me to share this story will all of Jmore’s readers!

Thanks, Robert!

Happy Chanukah!

Read all the Jmore staff gift stories:

A True Hero’s Gift by Michael Olesker

Little Things Mean a Lot by Alan Feiler

A Teddy Bear Adventure by Amanda Krotki

My Sweetest Gift Ever by Molly Blosse

Speaking of unique gifts, also see: 8 Crazy Shopping Events

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