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Azam's secrets
What to give a middle-aged woman for Christmas


December 8, 2006

Christmas is around the corner and I hear some of my fellow Iranian men griping about having to buy presents for their family members. They are totality fine with getting gifts for kids but think buying for the grown ups is just being Americanized.

Well, they stand to be corrected because as a woman I can tell you that I will celebrate any occasion which gives me a day off to do what I want, makes people more generous and most importantly I get a meaningful present!

Growing up in Khuzestan we had Armenian communities and I vividly remember how much we enjoyed helping our neighbors put up their Christmas trees and decorate them. My mom and dad gave me money to buy small gifts such as a book or box of chocolate to them. Of course the gift giving part stopped the first year they did not give me anything for Nowruz but I liked the smell of the pine and we all love colorful lights.

Now, on a more serious note I want to help out the brothers and make the task less stressful since many of you are so clueless and have no imagination when it comes to buying gifts for us for any occasion. I am the kindhearted big sister who wants you to shine and let’s remember this is not about me but having heard all the complaints, I want to make it simple despite the myth that women are complicated.

First of all, there are two groups of women.  The first are those who truly value anything that shows thoughtfulness as corny as it sounds.  The second group belongs to the “rich housewife” club. That is someone with 9th grade education (or high school if she is younger) who is married to someone with money and her status among the rest of the housewives is determined by the handbag she carries, the make up she wears and the car she drives and of course all is paid from the pocket of bothers like you who like being the “agha”.

You know which one you are married to, dating or you are related to (family member).  Pay attention to what I advice and I do not need you to thank me because after all that is what smart, educated, beautiful and cultured middle-aged sisters are for!

Do not buy diamonds if you do not know what to look for in determining qualities and grades.

Do go to a reputable diamond dealer, which has been around and educates you about gemstones in general.

Do not but anything from Victoria Secrets because they are teaching your daughters that you do not need to have an education or even speak well as long as you can show your body parts you are respectable. As for their stuff, they are garbage and truly inferior in quality. The bras are made for women with tiny boobs as well as the ones with implants so they push the boobs to created a cleavage. They poke on the sides and that hurts. Real women with god given boobs do not need the pain or the cheap materials.

Do buy Italian and French lingerie with hand made lace. Yes, they cost more but they last and are more comfortable and feminine.

Do not buy any perfume, which you see advertised. It does not matter who the designer is because the majority are designed for brainless people who have no sense of style and want to just be part of a trend.

Do buy classic perfumes you have seen the bottle on our dresser. They are hard to find and at times more costly but we appreciate the thought and the effort

Do not buy books listed on New York Times bestseller (unless we belong to the group who is not a “reader” but likes to claim she does read (latest trend among the fat, bored housewives desperately trying to recruit real intellectuals to their group).

Do buy books by feminists whose books are banned in Middle East and if not sure, do buy gift certificate from the bookstore.

Don not ever buy kitchen items such as pots or pans because you would be insulting us and you will end up in the doghouse for such insensitivity.

Do buy us pretty porcelain mugs to drink our tea or the one-person tea ensemble.

Do not buy us clothes unless you have the true measurements (not the size because depending on the designer you can have two size variations).

Do buy beautiful silk or cashmere wraps in beautiful colors (no morbid colors please).

Do not buy movies you like or because they won an Oscar. You will be surprised how unworthy some of them are.

Do buy independent movies and foreign movies (for movie buffs) and I recommend reading the synopsis so you understand if the story is the type we like.

Do not buy us wine or champagne for those of us who do not drink (and for God’s sake do not make comments such as “this can not be found in the US and it was sent especially for you from France” because, although you are sincere it does not matter and we will not be more impressed because it is one of a kind. What matters is whether we like to drink or not.

Do buy Persian Caviar (we know the difference even if the cans are switched) and good quality imported Persian nuts. If you can have a jar of Shaghaghel smuggled to the US then we will eternally love you!

Do not buy us CDs of singers you like to look at (the Persian ones) because most likely she is selling concert tickets for people like you who do not understand music but do not mind a relatively attractive Persian chick with sexy moves.

Do buy albums of Persian classical instrumental music as well as those singers you know we liked as teen-agers.

Do not ever buy exercise equipment unless you plan to be with God next Christmas.

Do buy books, which help empower and enrich the soul.

Do not buy shoes even if you know the size because again depending on the maker, it may not fit.

Do buy a good quality, small and simple leather handbag with natural colors.

Finally, do not buy a cheesy Christmas card. We celebrate the holiday not for religious reasons but simply because the streets are decorated in pretty color lights, the people seem friendlier and the lit trees everywhere remind us of “cheraghooni” in Iran when we were growing up and for every celebration our neighbors, families and friends would decorate with tons of lights.

Well, my dear brothers, hope I was useful again and may you be appreciated and thanked for your thoughtfulness and may you always be open minded enough to listen to your middle-age sister you have never met but has your interest at heart because for some reason you and the majority of brothers always appreciate her frankness and write words of encouragement.

Happy gift giving! Comment

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Azam Nemati



Crowning Anguish
Taj al-Saltana, Memoirs of a Persian Princess 1884-1914
edited by Abbas Amanat

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