What is the perfect Christmas gift? That question plagues me each year when I shop for my wife.

Karen and I met at a department store in Valley Stream 44 years ago. I was in college working part time as a store detective. Karen was in high school, working part time in the communications room, responsible for managing the employee pagers and store announcements. We met when she “beeped me” by mistake.

It was love at first sight.

We have been blessed in life. We have four beautiful children and five grandchildren. We enjoy the benefits of all of them living within three miles of us.

Every year I ask my wife what she would like for Christmas. Her answer is usually that she doesn’t need anything.

The challenge begins. All I ever want to do is to make my wife happy. I go out of my way to create a theme and buy gifts that she will enjoy on Christmas morning.

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Last year we remodeled our kitchen, and I gave her a personalized apron, top-of-the-line cookware and a holiday coffee cup. I include small gifts, such as a measuring cup or nail kit from the local 99-cent store, but also something more expensive that she deserves. A few years ago, that was Louis Vuitton handbag that my daughters both thought was the perfect gift.

In our family, we save my gifts for Karen until the end of gift-opening to allow all to see whether I nailed it. Most of the time, I do. But sometimes, a few days later, she will say, maybe we should return it. Although I feel the sting of disappointment, I return the gift. That’s what happened with the handbag. I wonder whether I was the first husband in history to return a gift with those coveted “L.V.” initials.

This year is a huge challenge, as my mother-in-law, Rosemarie Marzano, died Nov. 29 from a heart problem. She was 89.

What gift could I possibly get Karen this year that would make her happy? Karen called her mom at least four times a day every day. She feels such a painful void. I simply need a phone that will allow calls and texts to heaven. I have searched through Amazon — but nothing.

So I will fail in my efforts to find Karen the perfect gift.

But we will spend time as a family. The reality is, time is the perfect gift. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all — and enjoy your time with each other.

Reader Bill Kunz lives in Malverne.