Anything worthwhile is worth celebrating in style

Sunday, February 19, 2006

SHE SAID: The first mention came right before Christmas.

Just a casual reminder to Bob that four momentous occasions would take place in less than two months -- our one-year wedding anniversary Feb. 11, my birthday Feb. 12, the two-year anniversary of the day he proposed Feb. 13 and Valentine's Day Feb. 14.

By mid-January, things were more serious. There was not a hint of careful planning -- or even general acknowledgment -- in the air.

Once a week, I began asking about his plans, prompting him into considering all the possibilities.

Have you thought of a gift? What about accommodations? Are we going out of town? Have you made reservations at a restaurant?

With each question, I could see the beads of sweat and creases of frustration multiplying on my husband's face (note the perpetual wrinkles that still grace his forehead).

By early February, he assumed his usual passive-aggressive position, bemoaning his own incompetencies in hopes that I would ease up on the pressure.

But a year of marital education has not been wasted on me, and I really think it's his fault for the whole proposal/wedding thing coinciding with my birthday and Valentine's Day. (And he thought that would make life easier. Ha!)

Though the general idea was for Bob to surprise me, I began making outright suggestions to help him on his way. I'm very generous in that regard.

We could go camping ... we could eat at this restaurant ... you could buy this gift ... don't forget to make (not buy) me a card.

In the end, I pretty much did all the planning (and picked out my own gifts), but he made the reservations and waited patiently while I shopped store after store for my gifts. After all, isn't marriage all about compromise? I got my way and he got ... my way. And that is always the best way, as all wives know.

HE SAID: Our gift-giving relationship has evolved since we started dating four years ago.

At first, Callie insisted I not buy her gifts. Of course I did anyway.

Over time, Callie started anticipating her presents from me. Then she raised her expectations. After a while, the gift-giving evolution reached the hint-giving stage until finally Callie started suggesting what to buy her.

And usually I handle the pressure well.

This year? I had nothin.'

No ideas. And, because of a post-Christmas and post-medical bill financial crunch, I had no capital. It's always so much easier to be a good gift-giving husband when you have an available cash flow.

Yet my cute and talented wife was tossing out all these suggestions, none of which I thought we could afford. She about drove me mad.

Honey, can we really afford a weekend in Hot Springs? (No, of course we can't.)

I cashed out some vacation days, scraping enough money to spoil her with gifts, an expensive meal at one of Cape's finest restaurants and a night away at a hotel.

My cute and talented, scrapbooking wife also wanted me to make her a homemade card -- not the 5-year-old kind, but the kind like she makes with all her tools and stamps and eyelets that look better than the ones you can buy at a store.

Honey, do I really have time to make a homemade card? What, with the long hours at work, the stuff around the house, and my much-needed beauty sleep? Do I really have the ability to make one of those fancy cards?

The card was a disaster. The poem was nice (I spent a lot of time on it), but the hardware, as feared, ended up looking like a 5-year-old's masterpiece (I ran out of room to put the 's' on Valentine's Day).

As for her gifts, I bought her the "Lord of the Rings" books, which she has been wanting since the movies hit the big screen several years ago. I also treated her to a scrapbooking shopping spree at an area store where she bought a magnet-making device and some other stuff.

This year I'd rather Callie not get me an expensive birthday present. I'd like to save the money and put it in the bank to ease my mind. Then maybe, after 10 more years or so, I might be able to buy a reliable car. Or we could remodel the attic which we prematurely demolished last summer. That is if I don't spend all that money next February. I'd better start thinking of something.

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

Bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 122

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