The holidays often bring bittersweet memories to the surface of our minds, and this year is no different for me. We often miss the people who have left big holes in our lives more poignantly as we prepare for celebrations, and I am missing my husband. He loved to give presents in the most dramatic ways, as illustrated in the following, taken from my humorous memoir A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck.
Read on and enjoy…
They say – whoever ‘they’ are – that when it comes to gift-giving, it’s the thought that counts. While I don’t always agree with those anonymous ‘they,’ I have to give them this one.
My husband puts a great deal of thought into not only the present but the presentation. It isn’t enough to merely hand over a package for some occasion, he has to somehow turn it into an event and over the years we’ve been together he’s devised numerous, and often complicated, ways of surprising me.
Once he initiated his Christmas charade the week after Thanksgiving. It began with the announcement that this year he was going to be practical about my gift. Perhaps he’d build the bench in the kitchen I’d been wanting. Since I really liked the bench when he finished it, unlike the feelings I had toward the green stool I’d received a few years before that, I was delighted to accept the bench.
A week later, a friend told me that she knew what I was getting for Christmas. I tried to act nonchalant as I explained that I already had my present. She just grinned in response, and I started to wonder if my husband was up to something.
Then another friend mentioned that she, too, knew what I was getting for Christmas. I wondered some more but didn’t know what to even anticipate as I’d not expressed a desire for anything specific. At least not anything within the realm of possibility. There had been a brief mention of emeralds, a new wardrobe, or a cruise, but I knew they were out of the question.
About a week before Christmas, my husband finally admitted that all the excitement was over an electric paint-brush. Knowing there was no such thing, I immediately dismissed his comment, but trying to figure out what he and my friends were so excited about was about to give me ulcers.
Finally, Christmas morning arrived. We opened our gifts and my present turned out to be an electric pencil sharpener. Still suspecting that there might be something else – a pencil sharpener just didn’t measure up to the previous excitement – I waited for my husband to launch the big surprise. We continued with our usual holiday morning routine of breakfast, phone calls to out-of-town relatives, and playing with new toys. Part of me was still on alert for the “big surprise,” but nothing happened.
About mid-afternoon when I’d about decided my friends were nuts to be so excited about an electric pencil sharpener, I went into my office to put the instrument away. There was a large box on my desk. I stood for a moment, stunned, then heard my husband behind me. “Merry Christmas,” he said.
The top of the box had been set loosely over something and I lifted it to see a new typewriter. (Keep in mind that this was a long time ago and you will understand why I was thrilled. I wasn’t too far removed from my old 1940’s vintage manual and this new machine was electric. Plus, it had a correction cartridge!)
I had that typewriter for a long time, keeping it even when I got my first computer and glad that I had it when the computer was down for repairs. When I finally accepted the fact that the old machine needed to go, the parting was wrenching. Not so much for what it was, an object that had served me well for so many years, but for what its presence reminded me of.
Yes, it really is the thought that counts.
Disclaimer: I miss him for more reasons than just the gifts. 🙂
My wish for you is that you give and receive very thoughtful gifts as you celebrate whatever winter holiday that is special to you. Be happy.