The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The perfect gift

The first year that Paul and I were together, I put an enormous amount of time, energy and thought into his birthday gift. We'd been dating for about 10 months when his birthday came around and things were pretty obviously getting serious, but I still felt the need to impress. I wanted his gift to reflect how well I knew his taste, his interests, his needs and his desires. I wanted it to be perfect, and in its perfection, I wanted it to reflect how perfect I was for him.

I hit the mark that year with a wristwatch which was both elegant and filled with cool gadgets and gears to entertain him. An accompanying set of Rangers' tickets ensured my status as both a good gifter and a serious life partner candidate. A year later, when his birthday rolled around again, I scored again with a prepaid cell phone. It was 1997 and he was the first of our group to actually own such a thing, hard as that is to believe now. He loved that gadget to distraction, and me along with it. Years of great gifts followed, and the ring, the house, the family and all of the trappings of our life all followed, too. There are certain things you just come to expect from someone you've spent a decade with. And among the things Paul expects from me are perfect birthday gifts.

On Friday night, after we'd cut into the lopsided cake, I presented Paul with this year's gaily wrapped package. Inside, he found 3 new pairs of dress pants. "I'm so sorry it's so boring, I kept repeating. "There's just nothing you want or need this year. We've been spending a lot of money lately and you do keep saying that you need new work clothes. This just seemed to make so much more sense than spending a fortune on some random thing you don't even really want." He brushed off my apologies, repeatedly telling me that I was right and that the pants were the perfect gift. I still felt awful that it was such a boring birthday for him.

Twenty four hours later, we entered our friends' home for what Paul thought was going to be an intimate dinner party. And as he came face to very surprised face with his real gift, I knew immediately that I'd scored yet again. Paul buys himself everything he wants and needs, and he has every toy and gadget and device he could ever desire. But what he cannot buy for himself is what he craves the most, and that's time with his friends. One of the things that I loved the most about Paul when I first met him was his devotion to a tight-knit group of friends he'd known since childhood. Before the days of strict bedtime routines and expensive, hard to book babysitters, there was plenty of time to enjoy those friendships, and dinner parties and nights on the town with the gang were the norm. But such occasions are few and far between these days, and despite his happiness with our current life, I know how dearly Paul misses them. Surrounded by those people last night, holding court and enjoying himself as I've rarely seen him do in the past several years, Paul just glowed. And beside him, so did I, secure in the knowledge that I'd once again given my husband the perfect birthday gift.


At 5:54 PM, Blogger chichimama said...

Awww. So glad he enjoyed.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Happy belated birthday to Paul. So glad the party was a success!

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Hee. I'll say it AGAIN: Get out of my head! Because for Ben's birthday, in addition to printing out the love letter I posted on the blog, I let him have a birthday party with all of HIS friends he never sees anymore since he disappeared into married life.

Gotta love these Scorpio men, eh, Rebecca? I'm so glad Paul had a wonderful birthday. I also hope he didn't forget the very very best gift you gave him -- you know, the one you gave him on your wedding day, when you said "I do" and meant it, and delivered on the bargain.


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