Worst Christmas Present Ever

December 2, 2022

I may have the trophy on the worst Christmas present ever given to a spouse.  

I don’t know how the idea came to me as I was thinking about Christmas presents; I must have seen an ad or something, but the idea seemed clear as day. I thought to myself: “You know what would be great to get Ryan for Christmas? I’ll register both of us for the San Francisco Marathon in July! December will be a great time to start training!” 

Now, keep in mind we were living in Louisiana at the time, so I’m still confused on what I was thinking. I’d been wanting to run a marathon, and we’d both run a couple of half marathons. How cool, I thought, it would be to run through the streets of San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  

Christmas came, and we were with family in California. I was so excited to give Ryan his present—I’d printed out the race registration confirmations, wrapped them up, and put them under the tree. I was beaming as I handed him his present.  

As he opened it, his face filled with confusion and, dare I say, dismay, as he looked at the papers. 

“We’re registered for the San Francisco Marathon in July!” I blurted out with excitement. 

Let’s just say…the excitement was not reciprocated.  

I was reminded that we live in Louisiana and that 26 miles is an absurd distance. Also, I didn’t think through the training prep in the humid Louisiana conditions–there would be a lot of running on a treadmill. 

But Ryan, as always, is a good sport, and begrudgingly agreed to my “present.” We both trained and ran the marathon. Running over the Golden Gate Bridge was a highlight, but at one point I wanted to stop so bad and quit. Ryan encouraged me through. The most brutal parts of the run were actually the downhill parts. Neither of us anticipated that: we would see a downhill and almost brought to tears. 

Then we finally made it to Giants Stadium, we could see where the finish line was in the distance, at the Bay Bridge on the Embarcadero. We made it! The girls and my in-laws were there to celebrate us.  

I was proud of us, and Ryan said he was never doing that again.  

So lesson learned: do not sign up someone for a marathon as a gift. It will not be received well.  

I still don’t know what made me even consider signing Ryan up for a marathon. As I look back, I am so grateful he was willing to do it with me. It was a big accomplishment that we experienced together, and I hold that closely. By nature, I am fiercely independent and it doesn’t come natural for me to include others. Gifting a marathon was a way to include Ryan in a goal that I wanted to achieve.  

While Ryan is fully supportive of me, he does encourage my marathon goals to be independent now. 

What I have learned about myself lately is how much I value the idea of setting a date for things and putting it on the calendar. I think that’s why I’ve done marathons and other races. You can put an exact date on the calendar and then work backward to setting up a training schedule. Also, putting it on the calendar signifies it’s important.  

With this thought in mind, I wanted to share 4 quick tips on how to enjoy a busy December while simultaneously prepping for the new year:  

  1. Write down what needs to be done by the end of the year. Where you write down your list depends on your individual situation. For me, if it’s work-related I write it down on my desk mat calendar. If I am sitting at my desk, I am in work mode. Family tasks we put on our synced family calendar on a specific date.  
  2. Then, just get it done as quickly as possible. Here’s the thing you are worrying about it anyways, use that energy to just complete what needs to be done and cross it off the list. I am talking to myself here, the quicker it is done to quicker we can move on. 
  3. Write down what has been floating around in your head: “I really should do that…” If it can be put off until next year, set a date on the calendar in January or February. When we are thinking about the end of the year, there is so much that has to be done. It’s important to find the right balance of enjoying the season and not rushing through the holidays. If it can be put off until next year, consider it. 

A great example of this in action: I had a client go through Savology, and she knew she needed to work on getting a trust set up, especially a guardianship for their kids. It was keeping her up at night. We put a date on the calendar to discuss the process and what needs to be done.  

  1. Put a date on the calendar to start “adulting” financially. This is one of the main reasons new clients have come to work with me. “I know I need to get my finances together.” Really what we are saying is, am I on track financially? I think this is the equivalent to “Are my ducks in a row?” 

If you know of some things you or/and your family need to discuss on your financial journey, you can respond to this email, and we can put a date on our calendars to discuss in the new year. My hope is everyone can find some time to enjoy this December–whatever that looks like for you. My family is full this month with music recitals and fun Christmas concerts to enjoy.  

I’ll leave you with my a line from my favorite Christmas carol….”A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…” This line has been playing around in my head all year. I am truly wishing you and your families a hopeful holiday season.


The opinions expressed herein are those of Anna Nelson and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to sell any product. Forward-looking statements cannot be guaranteed. This document may contain certain information that constitutes “forward-looking statements” which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “expect,” “will,” “hope,” “forecast,” “intend,” “target,” “believe,” and/or comparable terminology. No assurance, representation, or warranty is made by any person that any of Anna Nelson’s assumptions, expectations, objectives, and/or goals will be achieved. Nothing contained in this document may be relied upon as a guarantee, promise, assurance, or representation as to the future. Anna Nelson is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.