Today I’m feeling a little sad for men. 

I admit I have taken my fair share of swipes at men over the years. I almost can’t help myself. Men are the low-hanging fruit of humor, mostly because they are so consistent. For example, they never fail to give advice or directions even when no one has asked for either. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them to stop talking, explain your love languages to them, or turn the radio up—still they persist.

And, if that isn’t enough to want to sling some arrows, think about how easy it is for them to drop ten pounds in a weekend. Men announce on Thursday night that they are going on a diet. On Saturday morning they wander into your space, step on your Yoga mat, and yawn saying they’ve met their goal weight. Pizza for everyone!

I mean it’s only fair to make fun of them when life hands them lemons and they lose five pounds. Or, when you read yet another article about the pay gap—you do the math—and indeed the gap is impressive between you and man you live with, who is an abominable listener and might deserve it but also maybe not.

I’ll never forget the day I volunteered at my daughter’s third-grade classroom only to hear a little girl say to the teacher. “My dad doesn’t listen. He. Just. Doesn’t. Listen,” slamming her hand down on the desk with each word.

It’s all good humor though, as I always say–I love men they make great pets. (Kidding. I kid. Lol). Some of my paper favorite people in the universe are men. My beloved brothers are men. Which brings me to why I am feeling a bit sad for men this holiday season.

This year I wanted to buy my brothers something I often purchase for the women in my life– a care package filled with lovely things that might bring them comfort. That’s when I realized the whole self-care movement isn’t for men.

I know that women notoriously take care of everyone else first and need encouragement to care for themselves. I also know that women do more for the family than their male counterparts. Women need to be reminded, gifted, massaged, and pampered. No question.

But, I had two nice men who could use a little salt scrub in their lives and I had some trouble.

I did a cursory search for gift boxes for men. Here’s what you can buy and ship in a box to a man. Packages filled with shaving soap, mustache wax, combs and blades. There were also tons of ways to ship cheese, crackers and sausages – fruits, dried fruits things to take hunting.  There are any number of disturbing ways you can celebrate the drinker in your life. Wine and beer openers, whisky bottles with flasks, shot glasses and mixology manuals, all packaged in red plaid boxes for the boozy non-lumberjack in your life. You can even send a wooden United States plaque to hang on the wall, where you can keep beer caps and track the local beers he’s consumed. You can give this to a woman too, but it’s marketed for men.

If your man is a bald, nondrinker with heart disease, your options are slippers.
There are no build-a-gift, drag and drop soft cashmere socks in pastel colors, or calming fingerless gloves in lavender big enough for a man’s hand.  No peppermint candles with a box of chocolates nestled next to it, in a red plaid box with deer antlers embossed on the side. No chamomile tea with a sheepskin cozy or candle smelling of pine wrapped in brown butcher paper.  No maize colored scarf or perfume that smells of the ocean breeze along with gel ice mask that reduces the eye swelling from crying after watching The Shawshak redemption for the twentieth time.

I’m not saying that you can’t give a man a woman’s gift box nor am I saying there is nowhere on the internet to find softer items. I’m sure if I spent a more time online, I could find something on the dark web. I’m just saying at first look it’s all mustaches, alcohol, and sausages, and that’s a damn shame.

If I had the time in my life to start another new company, I would create self-care boxes for men using the colors that psychologist find soothing instead of red brick, brown and black. Inside the box I would include soft cashmere scarves in blush and sea breeze next to candles that smell like the top an infant’s head.

I would add to it chocolate that taste like love and coffee that keeps you up long enough to tell your wife how much you appreciate her. I would form a partnership with a therapist and fill a gift box full of coupons for therapy. Where a side door would be available if they wanted to walk through it wearing their pink gloves and smelling of lavender.

And maybe, just maybe we could hand over a little softness their way. Then it’s possible they might shut up about their weight loss, they could see we think of them more than manly men and we could all live in quiet harmony.

XO Ann

Big thank you to Samantha Hoffman for editing this piece. She edits all my essays. Click for her services.

If you want to read a story I don’t tell very often–you can read it here.