Exactly What You Want

Published in The Ferndale Record, February 9, 2011

The February I was expecting my fourth child, I knew what I wanted for Valentine’s Day. Those decorative boxes of candy are a deliciously evil indulgence, and I always thought instead of eating the goodies inside, I might as well attach them directly to my hips and thighs. But, that year I was pregnant and decided since my weight was only going up before it would come down again, why not?

I explained the object of my desire to an understanding husband in explicit detail: It should be an enormous pink or red heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates, with a festive bow on top. It would be all mine, and a symbol that my mate knew how to get me a gift I really wanted. It felt oddly powerful.

His gift giving was on target and I can still taste those gooey little hunks of whatever-they-were doused in varying chocolate.

I know, I know. It’s not as romantic as having your loved one read your mind and inherently KNOW what you’d like for a special day. But here’s the deal: It works.

If you prefer to be surprised but are feverishly counting on a particular gift, prepare to be disappointed. Significant others usually mean well, but don’t often nail it without a giant hint—like a piece of paper with all pertinent details such as color, precise location of the desired item, size, and the fact that it’s on hold in your name at Macy’s.

In fact, send your loved one an Email with a link to the specific item and a kind note saying how bitter you’ll be if you end up with a Dust Buster instead. Boom. There it is.

You still might not get what you’d like. But at least you’re not depending on someone remembering your not-so-casual mention, a few weeks or months ago, of that thing you really want in that store by that place off some exit.

Here’s something I’ve tried. Buy it yourself.

The year after my divorce was final I decided to go to the beach alone for Christmas. In hindsight this was something I probably won’t do again any time soon, but it felt right at the time. On top of which, I intended to make it a holiday I could enjoy.

So, in the days before I left town I did a little shopping. I bought a pair of those retro, cat-eye reading glasses with little jewels in the top corners and asked the clerk to gift-wrap them. I had a couple of other little things to open, and I laid them all on a table in my hotel room.

When I tore open the box with the glasses, I was thrilled—it was a giddy moment. I could give myself the perfect gift without relying on anyone else. Oh, the control!

Another time I sent myself flowers for an accomplishment that would mean little to anyone else. I went to the florist, picked out what I wanted, wrote myself a lovely card, and asked for them to be delivered at 3:00 p.m. that day. I discovered that when someone’s standing on your porch with flowers for you, it doesn’t matter who sent them. It was my little secret, and I felt giggly surprise. I read the card with the kinds words, and tucked it away in one of those places with things I’ll keep forever.

Nobody wants to receive something you don’t want. But since others extend their own brands of kindness, you will. That’s why it never hurts to take care of the job yourself.

Heartless? Nah. Just satisfyingly practical.


7 thoughts on “Exactly What You Want

  1. I remember the first time I made my own birthday cake ~ it was incredibly liberating! I had spent too many years feeling sorry for myself because my husband and kids didn’t think of it. I had not told them how important it was to me. I thought everyone felt the same way I did ~ a birthday was not a birthday without a birthday cake! I took responsibility for my own happiness in the situation and have been a peace with it ever since. If by chance someone makes one for me it’s an added treat. There are two lessons in all of this: 1) take responsibility for your own happiness as much as possible 2) TELL the people you love EXACTLY what it is you need and want from them. If they love you they will indulge your wishes (if they’re reasonable) and if they don’t ~ well, then, your choice is to live with it…or not.

    Great post as always Sue Ann!
    Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

    • Thanks, Dorothy.. and I loved your story.. it rang true! It really all comes back to taking responsibility for our own lives, doesn’t it? Even in making the choice to accept another’s choice. I’m afraid my motives weren’t as pure as your analysis, though! I just appreciate the feelings that come from not depending on someone else to make me happy. I spent too many years doing that!

  2. I remember my first birthday after my husband passed away. No one, and I mean no one remembered, even my daughter who was still at home didn’t even acknowledge it. I was having a pretty rough time of it. I happened to go into Haggen’s and passed the flower shop, hmmm. I ordered myself a beautiful bouquet and wrote a loving note and signed all my children’s names to it and had it deliverd. When I got home my daughter thought I had gone “round the bend” as they say. Amazingly enough the next year everyone remembered my birthday.

    • HA! Barb.. I knew there was a reason we are friends! Some times it takes a trip ’round the bend’ to change our own perspective.. and if we’re lucky, others get the message. Thank you, my friend 🙂

  3. That’s a sad story Barbara, but there is a lesson to be learned from those situations. It was important for your children to get the message and that was a very effective way of doing it and a bit of a lift for you.

  4. Well, I just turned 50 last Sunday and I made darn sure everybody knew it LOL. I think some folks don’t want to be reminded of their birthday, but I say why not? God saw fit to give us another year of life on this earth, that’s definitely worth celebrating in my view 🙂

    • Hi Sabrina.. and thanks for reading! You bring up a good point–it doesn’t matter to some folks. But you sound like someone who appreciates a good remembrance, and have already learned how to make it happen!

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