It’s my birthday! Since my sweetie’s work week ends at noon today he’s flying in this afternoon to take me on a dinner/dance cruise and spend his “weekend” with me. But you already know how thoughtful he is. (See “The art of wooing is not dead.”)
The other day he told me he’d been shopping for my birthday gift. I’d forgotten to tell him that his presence was my present as he was already spending a lot on air fare. But he wanted to give me something I could hold — besides him!
The other reason I wanted to dissuade him from gift giving — but it was too late — is I’m hard to buy for. Dates and beaus have given me “safe” gifts of flowers, books, stuffed animals, etc. I appreciated their thoughtfulness even if I wasn’t always thrilled with the gift itself. But I still liked how generous the guy was to not only think of giving me a gift, but to follow through.
Gift giving was usually traumatic in my childhood and marriage, so I still have some baggage around it. While I try to be Zen about it now and appreciate whatever I get — or nothing — it can still be a sore spot. In the past, I felt invisible when my family gave me gifts that had nothing to do with me. Several Christmases I locked myself in the bathroom crying after gift opening when I looked at my gifts and there was nearly nothing that I had requested or wanted. I rarely played with baby dolls, but my mother gave me one each birthday and Christmas until I was 14! She loved them — I didn’t. My older brother bought me albums he wanted, my older sister would buy clothing that she could borrow.
My ex was no better, although not as self-focused in his gift giving. His first gift was a tiny pendant he’d bought on a business trip a few months after we began dating. Now, I’m a tall woman, 5’10” and not waif like, but not zaftig. I wear large earrings and necklaces to match my frame. This pendant would be like an ant on me — completely unnoticeable. I thanked him and put it in my jewelry box to remind me of his thinking of me, but I never wore it.
Of course, I don’t think I’m hard to buy for! (Do we ever see that in ourselves?) Only after my ex and I had many discussions about it did I come to see that my taste was challenging for him. My point of view was, “It would be easy if he just opened his eyes and looked and listened!” Hints were all around him. I am a football fan. Did he ever buy us tickets to a game? No, he bought me a life-sized cardboard cutout of my team’s quarterback. I collect colored depression glass. Might he have gone to an antique store or eBay and rounded out my collection? I frequently play my favorite recording artists. Did I ever get one of their latest CDs? You know the answer to these questions.
And if he’d just opened his eyes, he would have noticed I wear larger jewelry, not ant-sized pendants. I’m sure whatever my sweetie gives me today will be based on his observations of things I like and that I will like it.
So my question to you is, how are you when a beau gives you a gift for a significant occasion? Even if you graciously receive it in the moment, if it isn’t on target, do you let him know? And what do you do then — stuff it in the closet, take it back, or re-gift it? If he’s around your place much, he’ll notice it isn’t prominently displayed, used or worn. Then what?
And if this mis-gifting happens repeatedly, do you do what I’ve done in the past and make it mean that he isn’t paying attention to you? Or do you just accept whatever is given as a token of his affection?
(And, dear readers, Godiva is always appreciated, even as a belated birthday gift. I’ll gladly email my address to anyone who wants to send along a pound or two. <g>)
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