Back when Mr. Everything and I were dating, he used to bring me Valentine’s gifts. He brought roses, stuffed animals, trinkets, jewelry and candy. It was nice, and I appreciated it, although I must admit I’ve long-since gotten rid of most of the stuff he gave me. No disrespect to him – I just didn’t have room for it. When you live in 900 square feet with 3 other people who are almost as large as you are, you learn quickly to consolidate stuff. If it serves no purpose, it’s got to go. In fact, my kids know not to stand still in one place for too long, because I might get rid of them too.
The days of gifts are long-gone for the Mr. and me. It’s not that we don’t love each other anymore. In fact, we love each other more and more every year. It’s just that somewhere along the way, we became broke. Not broken. Just broke. Now, our public displays of affection consist of high-fiving each other when we manage to pay another month’s worth of bills. And $5 left over? That calls for a kiss!
Many years ago, when the broke days hit, we stopped buying each other gifts. That has been true for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and our anniversary. We’ve been known to stand in the card store, pick out cards for each other, read the cards we picked up, say, “Aw, that’s sweet,” and put them back. Why pay $4 for a card? (Do NOT get me started on that topic. Why, oh, why are cards so expensive??? They are made of paper for goodness sakes!) We usually go out to eat for special occasions, though it usually involves me writing a report afterward because we mystery shopped the location. Other people seem to think it’s a big deal that we don’t give each other gifts, but we’re okay with it. Honestly. We have a really good relationship without the gifts. Someday, when the kids are grown and gone (They will leave, right??), maybe we’ll do gifts again.
In the meantime, the gifts we give each other are the things we do for each other, and I’m pretty sure Mr. E has me beat there. He’s a pretty good husband. He puts up with a lot from me, and he (almost) never complains about it.
He cooks breakfast for me just about every morning. Otherwise, he knows I won’t take the time to eat, and I’ll end up with the shakes by 1:00. He’s a good man, Charlie Brown. The irony, though, is that today, on Valentine’s Day, he did not fix me breakfast. Go figure.
While fixing me breakfast would have been sweet today, my greatest gift this Valentine’s Day was a new door for my Suburban. It’s not that I’m thrilled to get a car part as a gift. In fact, when we were dating, Mr. E told me over the phone one time that he had a surprise for me. As I waited for him to pick me up for our date, I thought about all the things it could be. Maybe it was that new bracelet I had been eyeing. Maybe it was candy. (I’ll always accept chocolate.) Maybe it was something wonderfully romantic. Then, he got to my house to pick me up. He had a part for my car. The date did not go well that night.
I didn’t really care about getting a new door for the Suburban. Mr. E said we couldn’t leave it because it would leak and cause problems in the vehicle. Otherwise, I could have driven around with it taped for months and not cared. Since he said it needed to be fixed, I knew it did.
The best gift to me was not the car part but the way he handled the whole situation. Mr. Everything could have yelled at me. (That probably wouldn’t have ended well for him, but he could have.) He could have belittled me. He could have told me how stupid I was for backing up without looking. (This is something I have already told myself a bunch of times.) He could have stressed out over the bills and how we were going to pay $400 that we couldn’t afford to fix the door that I broke.
He did none of those things. He gently said, “Okay, we’ll get it fixed.” When I apologized profusely, he simply said, “It happens.” He didn’t yell. He didn’t accuse me. He didn’t embarrass me. Instead, he pointed out a similar mistake that he made in our truck not too long ago. This is why I love that man. His attitude and sweetness about the whole situation was a better gift to me than any roses or jewelry or candy could have been. That’s why he is and will always be my one and only Valentine. -Al