I am not the world’s best gift-giver. Not by a longshot.
But one Christmas, when we were still dating, I got my wife the perfect gift.
It’s been downhill ever since.
Mom and Buried and I began our relationship as long-distance friends, and after we finally met in person (at a company party), we became long-distance more-than-friends. Over the ensuing few months, we traveled back and forth between our respective cities, but we also spent a lot of time getting to know each other better, via emails and phone calls.
During an early email conversation, she stumbled across one of those surveys that used to circulate (before the Internet and social media became what they are today, email forwards were still a big thing. I remember I read that insane “Chuck Norris Facts” thing via Hotmail. God I’m old.).
This particular email forward was one of those long lists of questions designed to get someone to share information about themselves. Today they’re usually on Facebook and cover your top ten concerts, or they’re hashtagged on Twitter with “20ThingsYouDon’tKnowAboutMe” or whatever. You answer it and tag someone else and so on and so forth.
The one Mom and Buried filled out and subsequently sent along to me consisted of a random list of questions about her past, none of which I can remember some 12+ years later.
Except for one.
One of the items on that list was a question about the one Christmas gift you’d wanted as a kid but had never received, and when I saw her answer, I filed it away. I wasn’t initially sure, but I quickly learned that the item she’d long pined for not only still existed, but was available nearby. Plus it was nice and cheap to boot, which was a godsend for Yours Truly when I was shopping for her Christmas gifts.
I was living in Southie at the time, broke as a joke (whereas today I live in Brooklyn, as in debt as it gets), but it was to be our first Christmas together and I wanted to impress her. I couldn’t do it with money, so I had to do it with romance! And thoughtfulness! Which is a lot harder.
And I had to hope to god she didn’t remember taking that email survey, because the surprise was half the battle.
I stashed that thing in my trunk the weekend before Christmas, when she traveled up to Boston and we drove to the Berkshires for the weekend. We were at some inn – the Chamberry Inn, perhaps? – comfy and cozy in our room and I watched with great trepidation as she pulled the wrapping paper off the box to reveal the toy she so desperately wanted as a child and never received from Santa:
A Sit ‘n Spin.
I was hoping that it wouldn’t matter that, as an adult, there was almost no way she could actually use a Sit n’ Spin without injuring herself, that she would understand my intent, and that she wouldn’t be disappointed that instead of earrings or something I’d gotten her a cheap plastic toy. And it worked! Nostalgia and sentimentality FTW!
Such a meaningful gift set a standard I could never possibly live up to as our relationship progressed. In my desperation to give her a great gift, I was too clever! Now, every birthday and Christmas and anniversary and random day of the week, she expects me to deliver something just as amazingly thoughtful. But I have yet to top it. I’m not sure I ever will. (Unless you count our two kids. Which, as you already know, I definitely don’t.)
I keep trying though, and one of these days, I’ll get her something that makes her smile as wide as that ridiculous children’s toy did that night 14 years ago…
Somebody needs to send Mom and Buried another one of those surveys!