This week I’ve been thinking about gift-buying. I bought Chad a wallet for our anniversary (boring, I know) because his was falling apart (it always looks like George Constanza’s wallet from Seinfeld), and he is so hard to buy for, and oh yeah, I have no income with which to provide him with some fabulous gift. It kind of ruins the fun of buying a huge gift if he then has to go check the bank account to figure out how to pay for it. You fellow stay-at-home women know what I mean. So, I went with the wallet. It is genuine leather. I think I should get some points for that, because real leather just seems to matter to men. And real wood. Have you ever noticed how much they hate it when you paint something? But, I digress.
The gift search had me thinking back on some of the gifts Chad has given me through the years.
When we were dating, he was creative in his gift-giving. This was partly because he was broke, so he would do things like make paper flowers or buy a five dollar plate and then write a beautiful letter to go with it that made it meaningful. Those kinds of gifts were heart-meltingly nice.
After we were married (still broke) he moved more into the realm of trying to spoil me by saving up money to buy something crazy that we really couldn’t afford. For instance, one year he bought me diamond earrings. He wrapped them up in eight or ten different boxes, each one getting smaller and smaller until I finally came to the tiny blue box that held the glittering prize. Those kinds of gifts were impressive and sweet.
And, there have been a few times when he came up with some crazy gift that made me giggle. Like the time he bought me golf clubs (no, still not a champion golfer) or when he bought me an alligator purse that was–you guessed it–a stuffed alligator. Plus, there have been a few duds (but not many). Like the year he bought me a toaster for Christmas. Heck, that’s about as exciting as a wallet.
But, I would have to say, that in 16 years worth of gift exchanges between us, my favorite gift ever was not the diamond earrings. It wasn’t even the wonderful gift cards or the sweet letters or the beautiful clothes.
The best gift Chad ever gave me was a pint of ice cream and a six pack of Diet Dr. Pepper.
Yes, you read that right. It was Mother’s Day. Adelade was about 14 months old, and she was sick. I had stayed home from church to mother my baby, so I didn’t get to get all dressed up and enjoy the fun recognition or take pictures with my girl or do any of the usual fun things. Chad went to church, and when he came home I believe Adelade and I were still in our pjs. He walked in carrying a grocery bag, and he handed it to me without any pomp or circumstance. He gave me a sweet card, which I read and cried about, and then I peeked into the bag to see my favorite ice cream and my favorite drink. And it thrilled me.
Not because I am obsessed with ice cream and Diet Dr. Pepper. But, because no one else on the planet would’ve known just exactly what to go get for me at the store that would make me smile. And, it is nice to be known. To be at least somewhat understood. And to be remembered.
All around I see marriages breaking apart, and there are times that I want to just shout out into the universe for all couples to hear: “But, you KNOW each other!” That counts for something, y’all. Being married is just one long exercise in knowing someone. And, there are things we know about each other that we don’t like. But, we also know a life that no one else can quite understand. We know a shared experience. We know secret moments that others weren’t around for. We know deep, dark, amazing, scary, fascinating mysteries about each other. Knowing and being known…those are two of the biggest blessings of being married.
I always look forward to seeing what kind of gift Chad will come up with next. Hey, I’m not opposed to diamonds. But, I also love the simple, beautiful expression of knowing that comes from a three dollar pint of ice cream. He knows me. We’ll just pretend like the toaster never happened.