Last week was Stephanie’s birthday. We started the day with our regular ritual of giving Stephanie a Tiramisu Cake in bed with her morning coffee. Next came the cards from the kids and each of them made her a special present in their free time. Stephanie was having a wonderful morning.
“What did you get Mommy?” Josh asked after I handed her my card.
“Mom picked out her present last week,” I replied.
Josh looked at me awkwardly. He didn’t get the concept of Stephanie picking out her gift. And he isn’t the only one; A few friends of mine have told me that I am lazy! One of Stephanie’s friends told me that I lacked creativity. I have tried to explain the reason to a few people but they still think the rationale is a lame excuse. I was even told once that I “simply lack the proper attentiveness towards my wife.”
Stephanie does not like surprises. And as much as I understand the rationale of “thoughtfulness, understanding, compassion and general creativity” in regards to gift giving, Stephanie really doesn’t like surprises. It is as simple as that.
I used to buy Stephanie jewelry. I used to go back to stores and buy items she would comment on months earlier when we were skulking around town. I would even think outside of the box every once in a while and buy gifts that I thought were perfect for my wife. And Stephanie loved every gift that I bought her, but the functionality of the gifts is where my thought process broke down.
Jewelry is good if you have someplace to wear it. We have small kids and we don’t go to formal functions like we used too. Out of the box gifts are fad gifts. They fade into the background like all of the other trinkets that have collected dust in our garage over the years. And “thinking out of the box” when it comes to gifts violates the very first rule, Stephanie does not like surprises.
To be honest, I haven’t always let Stephanie pick out her gifts. I like surprises and liked the idea of trying to surprise Stephanie for her birthday until we accidentally stumbled onto our current arrangement last summer. Stephanie saw a concert she wanted to attend on Ticketmaster.com. So she bought the tickets, printed the tickets and put them in an envelope. When I came home from work, she handed me the tickets and said, “Thank you.”
“For what?” I asked as I opened the envelope.
“For buying my birthday present,” she replied. Inside the envelope was a pair of tickets to the Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker concert. I gave her the tickets for her birthday like she told me too and I booked a babysitter for the night of the concert. We had the best time at the show and the memories of the night we spent together will last longer than any of trinkets or baubles I could have bought at one of the local shops.
This year Stephanie wants to spend a day at a local Festival and then she wants to end the evening at the Darius Rucker concert. Done and done! At this stage of our lives, the memories created by doing something with our children and with each other is more important to Stephanie than the materials gifts I could have “surprised” her with on her birthday. Besides the anticipation of the adventures that await us at the Festival and at the Concert make the joy of her birthday last longer than just one day.
Some may still call me torpid but I like to think of myself as innovative. Stephanie wants to spend time with me and the children creating memories; memories that will last a lifetime! And in the end, isn’t that what matters?!