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Merry Christmas

Shopping for â€Å"Hank’s wife” (or, thoughtful but random gift ideas for those you love, mostly)

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I received a subscription to Biblical Archaeology Magazine last year for Christmas.

I knew it was mine, because it said, “to Hank’s Wife.”

I knew from whom it came because it said, “to Hank’s Wife.”

The brother of my Significant One has a pet name for me when he’s calling up the stairs for beer or when he wants supper during the times when he visits us. While he and his bro sit, chat, and watch Rambo, “King of the Hill,” and occasionally horror movies, I am called on for the necessities in life. The two recovering Texans enjoy their get-togethers, so I smile and act as if I am a subservient woman; consequently I earned myself a subscription to Biblical Archaeology Magazine.

Blithely ignoring the fact that I am neither an ardent scholar of the Bible nor particularly interested in archaeology, Mike purchased me this quarterly frolic through both topics, and I’m determined to return the favor.

But how?

How does one take the absolutely random, and one-up it?

Museum shops, baby.

First thought: the Fort Nisqually Gift Shop. Certainly something there will tickle my random bone fancy, and leave him scratching his head just as I scratched mine.

Or possibly I can head over to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium nearby and buy him a one-year Zoo membership, support a cause I love, and act as if I want to have him visit more often. Or, I can go to the Zoo gift shop and get him some rocks — since he has an apparent interest in archaeology, and there are rocks involved in digging — or a stuffed tiger. He can name them, and they can keep him company (amazingly, the man remains single).

Sure, there’s other useful stuff in both shops, but “useful” defeats the purpose.

Hence, the Washington State History Museum is out, too. I love the wide range of Northwest-y, Washington-y goodies, but I suspect he’d use them to teach his fifth-graders geography and history, and again: utility is out, it’s all about the random.

So then again, museum shops are the ticket.

Both the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum shops have a wide variety of hopelessly cool items, some of which have questionable utility. Fabulously lacy filaments of glass made up cubes and spheres by Anna Skibska at the Museum of Glass gift shop, but I thought them just a bit too nice for the guy who calls me “Hank’s Wife.” Amazingly affordable, bright utilitarian vessels caught my eye next, but I remembered the idea was to find a “random” item on par with subscription to a quarterly periodical. Wineglass i.d. tags made me smile, because I want to be the party guest who gets the “sturdy” wine — or, wait, how about “overpriced?”

But still, these things are not quite “Mike.”

At the Tacoma Art Museum shop I saw what appeared to be artist action figures, only they weren’t so active. Lord Cromwell’s Oddfellows are fun caricatures of notables like Picasso, Van Gogh, Frida, Dali, and Andy Warhol, which I thought quite seriously about until I — quite literally — saw the holy grail of gift ideas: a book titled “Illuminated Manuscripts: a guide to technical terms.”

Beautifully random, in the same historically biblical way that the mag subscription was.

The only trouble was, I spied something next that was even better: a piranha-like plastic fish with jagged metal teeth: “Dental Floss Dispenser.”

Useful? Sort of. Random? Oh yeah. And a perfect way to gently remind him that she who is referred to as “Hank’s Wife” is an individual, a daughter to a dental assistant more than a wife to Hank.

So did I skip up to the cash register and fork over the cash right then and there?

Oh, no. I’m waiting for Friday and Saturday, when I can go in and get a TAM membership for 20 percent off, and then qualify for a 20 percent discount at the shop, too. On those two days, the MemberShop Weekend will give museum members discount perks as well as free gift wrapping, all in an environment that will soothe as Heidi Morton will play classical guitar.

And for the first time the Tacoma Art Museum will join its shopping event with the Museum of Glass, offering MOG members the same discount; simultaneously, the Museum of Glass will offer 20 percent discounts to TAM members.

Mall-less shopping, and the perfect gifts? It just doesn’t get any better than that.

[Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, 253.591.5337]

[Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 888.238.4373]

[Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.284.4719]

[Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4258]

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