My husband loved Christmas. He wouldn’t always show much interest in the yearly Christmas card and letter, the baking, the decorating, or the lists I kept to keep everyone organized and everything fair. But a few days before the actual day, Dean went full force. He would go out shopping, alone, without a list, and without a budget. He would buy presents for our sons, his mother, and for me, disregarding the wrapped gifts already under the tree. It was irritating, but I was always impressed on Christmas Eve with his spot-on ideas. He had a knack for selecting the most wonderful presents, ones we didn’t even know we wanted. The joy on everyone’s faces, especially on his, outweighed any frustration I felt with his buying habits. As wonderful as his gift giving was, he was equally elusive of giving ideas of what we should get for him. Who hasn’t been frustrated with the statement, “Oh, I don’t need anything” when you want so desperately to get just the right gift? Well, Christmas 2008, I thought I had finally gotten it right. We enjoyed watching the TV show “Top Chef” together and that year they came out with their first “Top Chef Cookbook”. My husband loved to cook and I thought – finally, the perfect gift! I hunted all over for that darn book, but they were sold out everywhere I looked. I settled for something similar and hoped for the best. Christmas Eve came and we opened our gifts. Although he liked the cookbook, I could tell I missed the mark again. When my turn came, he was grinning like a fool. I unwrapped the cookbook I had searched and searched for. He had outdone me again. Actually, I think that was my gift to him – the joy of beating me to the punch. I flipped through the book, rolled my eyes and smiled and shook my head at being bested yet again. I thanked him with resignation in my voice. That was the last Christmas we had with him. He passed away the following September. The first Christmas without him was tough, but we got through it. In the quiet of the days that followed, I having a bit of a rough time, missing him terribly. I pulled out that cookbook for the first time all year and found something I had overlooked the first time I flipped through the book. He had written in the front cover – “To Amy, Merry Christmas, I love you! Dean”. He had given the perfect, thoughtful gift once again.