Why monetary value is low on my ‘right gift’ checklist
I’ve never been impressed by grand gestures or expensive gifts. In my opinion, they say more about the person who gives them than the recipient. Men – and it’s almost always men – who spend lavish amounts on their women, I fancy, are satisfying their own egos rather than focusing on pleasing the one doing the unwrapping.
I never want to hear Drew say: “Show them what I got you,” in order to bask in the approval of an impressed audience and as for trying to keep up with the guys he knows when they buy presents for their wives or girlfriends, well, that would have nothing to do with me at all, would it? Instead, I see the right gift as saying: “You mean something to me and this is how I know you.”
As monetary value is low on my ‘right gift’ checklist, I’m either the easiest person to buy for, or the most difficult.
Being the conventional sort, Drew had always bought his now ex-wife jewellery on anniversaries and stuck pretty close to that on other occasions. He knew it would please her and he considers jewellery an intimate gift. It always had to be worth a few bob so’s not to suggest she wasn’t worth spending a decent (or indecent) amount of money on. So can you see how confusing it was for him to hear that I don’t expect or want the same treatment? I also had to explain that chocolates in a heart-shaped box and weekends away in a four-poster bedroom are too cliched to be heartfelt. If Drew’s perception of what women want was accurate, I’m not a proper woman.
I have a friend who was swept off her feet by a tall, handsome gentleman with a smooth voice who regularly showed up with flowers from a particular florist or salmon to cook for her and who took her for mini-breaks in carefully chosen hotels. I had my doubts about his sincerity, but kept my mouth shut even when I found out from his previous girlfriend that she had been to the very same hotels and eaten the same dishes while enjoying frequent bouquets. It all began to unravel for him when he made the mistake of taking my friend along to help him choose a funeral tribute for a family member. Florists are not as discrete as you might have imagined.
I’m from an era when most proposals of marriage happened in bed.
These days, it seems, the most romantic of romantic moments is thought to be an over-orchestrated marriage proposal at an exotic holiday location on top of a mountain or an elephant. I suspect the proposer might be more concerned with the question his fiancee will surely be asked about where and how he did it than the life-changing question he is asking her himself. And the cost of the ring is required to be some set multiple or other of his monthly salary, I’m told. You might think I’m cynical, but then I’m from an era when most proposals of marriage happened in bed, after which you probably got up, had a wash and went out to choose a ring together.
So, what would be going through your mind if you were handed a delicate, little box in front of 100 onlookers at the top of the Empire State Building? Well, when my flustered friend read the words, ‘Hot Diamonds’ on what she found in her hand, she suggested moving away from the crowd in order to have time to compose something in her head about touching sentiments, deep feelings and NOT being ready to take that step quite yet. No doubt he considered his plan romantic; he was, however, spectacularly wrong. It didn’t occur to him that his gift of diamond earrings would be received in the way it was. But then, he really wasn’t thinking, was he?
For me, it really is the thought that counts and after years of doing his best to meet the high expectations of her who went before me, Drew has tried to adjust by listening to what I reveal and making mental notes (or sometimes even written ones) so’s not to be without inspiration at the appropriate time. But I don’t think I’m the transparent hint-dropping, manipulative sort – well maybe just a feminine smidge if I’m honest. What I mean is, he listens to me when I rattle on about my passions and notices what I’m drawn to when we are meandering around whichever town we happen to be visiting.
The gifts Drew has given me have been memorable, meaningful or occasionally just the right side of practical. The most extravagant was a surprise pilgrimage to my spiritual home, Stratford, where I was allowed to indulge in all things Shakespeare. Drew trusted, against his instincts, that if I reap such immense pleasure from Saint Will, he might not completely hate the experience and he would be learning more about me over the weekend.
I’m truly impressed by how Drew aims to get it right, but probably not as much as his youngest granddaughter who reached the splendid old age of three this month. On opening her birthday present from Grandpa (a relatively inexpensive, plastic Bubble Guppies hair salon set), she leapt up onto his lap; circled his neck tightly in her plump, little arms; covered his face with countless, grateful kisses and wept the joyous words: “Grandpa – I’ve wanted this my whole life!” I like the way she thinks.