(Strip Number 1507, Original Publication Date, 8 December 1988)
Panel 1: As Mike does his homework, Elizabeth comes along, tells him that she's bought all of HER presents and asks if he's bought his yet. He asks her 'WHAT presents?'
Panel 2: When she tells him that he's supposed to have bought gifts for Lecturing Roadapple Uncle Danny, Enabler Of Lecturing Roadapple Aunt Bev, Pious Irritant Who Needs Her Face Slapped Cousin Laura and John's parents on top of the ones he's supposed to buy for his immediate family, he mutters "UH??" in confusion because he's a Patterson.
Panel 3: He's even more confused when he's reminded that for some stupid reason that is probably Elly being a day-dreaming moron who'd have binge-watched Little House On The Prairie had that been an option in 1988, they're going to spend Christmas at Exile Farm that year.
Panel 4: As he thought-bubbles about kissing THAT GIRL, Lizzie drops an HONESTLY bomb before asking where his brains is at these days.
Summary: It seems to me that Martha is simply an excuse for a tendency that's pretty much been handed down from father to son by osmosis. For some reason, the Patterson men have the inconvenient quirk of forgetting wives' birthdays, Valentine's Day and blanking out on what women might actually like. The form it takes here is Mike letting the comments Elly had to have made to him over and over again about the alleged beauty of a bleak, frigid prairie winter wash over him because that's just what men do. If it hadn't been his not-really-his-girlfriend, it would have been an over-focus on peewee hockey.