This week, I celebrated my 30th birthday. The day panned out differently to how I imagined it would. I always thought I’d be knee-deep in champagne but instead I’m so pregnant that I can’t see my knees! I’m not complaining. My pregnancy is reason in itself to celebrate, and I understand that more than most. I’m just saying the way I spent the day was different to how I expected.
And that’s not the only thing that was different…
Are you someone that normally has to choose the gifts that are given to you by your spouse?
Has your spouse ever said “I don’t want to get you something you don’t want” or “you’re so hard to buy gifts for?”
Have you ever had to purchase your own gift? Perhaps you’ve offered to because it’s easier? Perhaps you’ve then wrapped it too?
On occasion, I’ve fallen into a couple of these categories. It’s never been because Sam hasn’t cared about the occasion or because he’s felt lazy. It’s been because he’s genuinely wanted to get me gifts that I’d love.
But I’ll be honest – I HATE choosing gifts for myself. And I’m guessing a lot of people, especially mums, feel the same way.
When Sam asked me what I wanted for my 30th I said I didn’t know. He told me that I’m hard to buy for. He said that he wanted to get me something I actually wanted.
Weeks passed and I still didn’t throw him a bone. And, as the day crept closer, I noticed the conversation started to change.
He kept asking if there was anything I wanted and I continued to say “No.” But he also started saying things like “I have a few ideas that I’m working on…but if there’s anything you actually want, let me know.”
With only a few days to go, he
My birthday arrived and Sam bounded into the house with a bunch of gifts. They were wrapped and there was a card, which he proudly announced he bought himself instead of using the stash we have at home. He was smiling. He
When I opened each gift, Sam explained why he bought it. He said things like “I remember you mentioned this a while ago…” or “you love X so I thought you might love this too.”
I genuinely love every single present he bought me and here’s why:
1. I wouldn’t have bought any of them for myself.
It’s not because I don’t love the gifts that I wouldn’t have bought any of them. It’s because I’m someone who’s budget-conscious when it comes to things for me. I get more joy from buying things for others than I do for myself and I, like many mums, tend to put my self-care last.
2. I didn’t need any of them.
There’s a distinct difference between want and need. By the time you get to your 30’s, if there’s something you need, you don’t wait until your birthday to ask someone for it – you just go and buy it.
None of the gifts I received were over the top or impractical but I didn’t need any of them. And that’s part of what will spark part of the joy for me when I use them.
3. As a mum, having to choose your own presents is a chore.
Barack Obama famously told Vanity Fair that he only ever wears grey or blue suits. He said “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. I have too many other decisions to make.”
I know motherhood isn’t on the same level as presidency but when you spend day after day making a thousand decisions about your children the household, having to choose a gift becomes a chore rather than something to do with a celebration…and I can’t get through all the chores I have already!
4. The greatest thing about receiving gifts is the element of surprise.
This point doesn’t require explanation. After all, there’s a reason you can’t see through wrapping paper…
5. “Happy birthday!” isn’t the only message that is delivered.
Knowing that Sam was putting time and thought into shopping for my presents told me that I’m worthy of time and thought. Knowing that he was trying to tailor the presents to me told me that I’m unique to him. It was a reminder that my uniqueness is what makes me special to him as well as to others.
When Sam said he was nervous that I wouldn’t like the gifts, it told me that he cares about my opinion.
When he said that he’d chosen the card and paper himself instead of using the ones we already had, it told me that my emotional experience of opening the presents was important to him and that he knows that the element of surprise is important to me.
When he said that he’d kept the receipts, it told me that he was putting my satisfaction before his pride.
The result of these verbal and non-verbal messages was that I felt loved.
When Sam said “Happy Birthday!” it wasn’t a wish. It was a statement, for I did indeed have a very happy birthday! Sam played a significant part in making that so.
Gift giving isn’t about the gift itself. It’s about the process of it being thought of and purchased. It’s about the sentiment with which it is given.
I hope your weekend is a lovely one. We’re off to Sydney to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Sam will be cheering, as we’ve agreed that we’re not buying each other a gift, and it’s safe to say he’s run out of ideas!