I think my dad would appreciate that it was an uphill battle to discovering its importance, but I have reached a point where I pride myself on my gift giving abilities. It’s mostly because I desperately seek other’s approval, but in the case of my dear bride, I just love seeing that beautiful blonde smile. That woman works her tail off and I couldn’t possibly imagine how difficult it is to love someone that acts like me, let alone looks like me, but she does it. The least I could do is try and make up for my shortcomings with good gifts.
So after some on-the-job training on giving gifts, I do a pretty decent job and I don’t miss a single ridiculous holiday. Obviously, the gift quality varies, but these include Christmas, birthday, Mother’s Day, anniversary, Cow Appreciation Day, and of course, Valentine’s Day. And that’s not it.
That non-exhaustive list fails to include how important it is to give some sort of gift (flowers, card, candy, etc.) for absolutely no reason. I think Sarah muttered something about enjoying spontaneity. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find some dead time from the holiday season and show some love via gift.
The gift giving regiment I just mentioned isn’t the gold standard, either. This is merely the bar.
For me, I’ve learned to go one step further. I’m also the guy that slaps his buddies around when I ask what he has planned for their upcoming anniversary or Valentine’s Day and he’s ready to walk home empty handed. I’m relentless. I love my dear friends, and as a I result, I will insult them incessantly until they see the light.
Real story: had a friend tell me he wasn’t doing anything for their anniversary because “she’s not real big into that sort of thing and money’s tight.” Mind you, the only reason I found it was their anniversary was because we were on an AM hike. Only good thing about him deserting his wife with two kids the morning of their anniversary was that I had about three hours to lay into him.
To his credit, I had been married about nine years at this point and they were only on their third anniversary. Low and behold, my man came through. I happened to bump into him at Target later that day. His cart left a little to be desired with a bouquet of cheap roses and a generic box of chocolates in the shape of heart. It was pretty sad actually, but damn it, it was something. We exchanged a cordial bro-hug, (or was it a high five? No, it was definitely a bro-hug!) and we went our separate ways.
Fast forward about three hours and Sarah’s phone starts blowing up. Said friend’s wife is texting about how blown away and happy she was with the gesture my buddy had shown that day. Things probably got weird once the kids went to bed and he hasn’t missed a gift giving opportunity since. Now, I’m not going to take credit, but she did specifically ask Sarah to tell me thank you. I then had to council my buddy on how to pass things off as his own idea. Come on, bro.
Despite that beautiful story, it wasn’t six months later I felt like Eve in the garden. I believed a lie that I knew was a lie before it was even told. In fact, I had dismissed this lie for almost 10 years up and to this point. But I played a little too close to the fire and that day will live and infamy–
Early May 2015 and Mother’s Day was fast approaching. Money was tight and we were working on a few financial goals. I also remember acting like I was busy around this time. I didn’t feel like going through all the effort and her birthday is pretty soon after, so I started feeling Sarah out a little early on this one just to see if I could tone down her expectations. Like usual, she says she doesn’t want anything or or, “let’s just not do anything this year.” Something to that effect. I tell her she’s ridiculous, but she convinces me that getting her hair done that Friday was “going to be her gift.” I was slowly slipping into the same peril my buddy had.
More than anything, I wanted to put this shenanigans to the test. Where does she get off just saying she doesn’t want anything, but actually expecting something?! Is it even possible for nothing to actually mean nothing? Does she even know what she’s saying? Again, I already knew the answer this these questions, but let’s just say I really needed my own chat on a “three hour hike” because I woke up, gave her a kiss, wished her Happy Mother’s Day, and proceeded to check my email…and watched one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made unfold right before my eyes…and ears. We remember the next few minutes, hours, and days a little differently, but Sarah and I can both agree a valuable lesson was learned that day.
Turns out, as I already knew, nothing means something. That something could have been anything. A card, a note, a flower, a magazine, breakfast in bed, a finger painting from the kids, a Victoria Secret coupon for free underwear that I could have hidden from her when it came in the mail. Literally anything.
I wasn’t born with a talent for gift giving. I don’t pretend to understand women. I screw up all the friggin’ time. Going on 11 years of marriage, I sometimes blow my mind with some of the stupid crap I do and say, but listen to what I’m saying here. I have figured one little tiny thing out and I know it will help you, and if you already know it, be a good friend. Share your knowledge with anyone that will listen and don’t send them into the battle of Valentine’s Day without this wisdom.
Whatever you do this year, for Valentine’s Day or any other gift giving opportunity, it doesn’t have to be big. In fact, the smaller and more thoughtful, the better. No one says Valentine’s Day is easy, but there are many good reasons to step up this year. In reverse order of significance, here’s five reasons to step up to the plate:
5.) “Nothing” is a lie, whether she realizes it or not
This is simple. No one wants to hear how cool your wife is about not wanting anything for the silly holidays. The sob story about money being tight is garbage and no, you have not talked your wife out of celebrating Valentine’s Day. These things simply aren’t true. If your wife has a pulse, and whether she tells your or not, she expects something…anything. Heck, it’s even possible she doesn’t realize she expects something, but she does. Be creative, or don’t. Just don’t ever, I mean ever, get nothing.
4.) It’s an opportunity on a platter
Let’s face it, the holiday season almost always sucks. The pressure is high, your bank account is down to the felt, and as we just learned, your wife is a liar! (JK, JK:) Now, that said, there are tons of reasons the holidays can be looked at as an opportunity. Fortunately for you, there are boneheads all over the globe dropping the ball. That means you look like even more of a rockstar for coming through in the clutch. Show your lady you dig her; there’s something in it for you too. Speaking of which…
3.) It’s about you too
There is nothing wrong with some healthy narcissism and selfishness when it comes to gift giving. Let’s not act like this isn’t at the core of everyone’s gift giving. I mean, it’s mostly about the other person, but if gift giving didn’t feel good, what’s the point? For me, the fun is in the chase. When I find the gift that is going to knock Sarah’s socks off and I did it for under 30 bucks, that feels damn good. And thanks to our entitled friend Mark Zuckerberg, her friends will be hearing all about it via photo on social media making you look like a more sensitive and less attractive Don Draper.
2.) Your kids are watching (and your friends, and your family, and your brothers…)
Our daughters are learning how to set their expectations for their future husband. Your boys are figuring out how to treat women. Young couples are trying to find their way and looking at your marriage to do it. Let them see you be creative and devote a little thought in making your wife feel like the Duchess of Cambridge.
1.) She’s legit
At some point, you looked at this woman and said, “Aight. Let’s do this thing. Like, forever.” She then asked if you wanted to try that again and you probably crushed some adorable proposal, or not. Point is, she’s smoking’ hot, loves your kids (or future kids), and despite your complete and utter brokenness, she is pretty fond of you too. Even if it’s just a card with a little inside joke, love notes put on stickies around the house, or her favorite bag of chips…don’t do nothing. She’s rock solid and trust me, you can’t do better. It is senseless to miss a chance to make her feel special.
Good luck this Valentine’s Day and please share some of your great/creative gift ideas when you were a hero and more importantly, share your failures so we can laugh at you and learn from them.
Need help with some good places to start? Here’s a couple options I’ve used: