I’m not much of a frou-frou, Valentine, chocolate-and-roses kinda gal. I’ve only gotten one Valentine’s present my whole life. That was because I was meandering through Sam’s Club one day and I saw this cool heart-shaped locket-watch bracelet-thingy and I wanted it. Since it was late January, I wisely pondered, “Oh my, that’s kind of Valentine’s like!” So I bought it, and in a stroke of sheer genius, came home and wrapped it in pink paper with hearts on it. Then, with great joy I gave the wrapped box to Dan and said, “Would you give this to me on Valentine’s Day? Then we would be almost normal, and I could show people what I got on Valentine’s Day.” He, being the gracious soul he is, complied, and so back in 2005, I felt what it was like to show off a bracelet and tell people “Look what my husband gave me for Valentine’s day!”
See, I never grew up with presents. I never celebrated a Christmas day and never got a single birthday present. Apparently those kinds of things were pagan rituals. So, I sort of don’t know what to do with love coming in the form of presents. Even when I became a pagan gift-giver, I myself never really grew into the idea of presents—the tangible, touchable, what do you do with this vase, kind of presents.
My motto is: Nice things are nice, but then you have to dust them.
My poor husband. I think he would like to be a gift giver. In fact, once he came home with a lovely—truly they were so lovely—pair of diamond earrings. No reason, just because he thinks I’m worth it.
They were beautiful. I held them up to the light and watched them twinkle. I was amazed at the prisms dancing off the facets, the range and depths of colors, the clarity. I stood admiring them for a long moment, then I turned to him, and with a catch of longing and anticipation in my voice said, “How much of a road bike could we get for these beauties?”
Once again, my beloved complied, and a week later I had naked ears, but a super sweet road bike I named Sapphire. She completes me, and I always consider her my crown jewel. (And yes, I do have to dust her occasionally, but it’s a special caretaking kind of experience.)
Love for me is just too hard to fit in a small black box. Love for me is more like meat and potatoes and occasionally a head of steamed broccoli.
Love is washing dishes after a 20 person dinner party. Love is cleaning up after the flu. Love is getting up at 5 a.m. so you can get off work early to drive the kids around. Love is stopping on the streets of LA to pray for Perry, a homeless man who sang beautiful a cappella gospel. Love is doing the bumpy, messy, exhausting things with tender joy.
And I have all that love. I am never hungry for love because my husband of 17 years blesses me daily with meat and potatoes. I think he would probably like to be more romantic with me, but I’m a bit of a difficult breed. It’s hard to get me a present that I won’t want to return for some sort of athletic equipment.
Wherein lies the problem. I have a son. He’s going to be 13 soon. He might not find a wife who prefers riding gloves over manicures, Gator tires over a Coach bag. But this son doesn’t see much of an example in terms of gifting. In fact, on Christmas day, the only one who knows what every single thing is under the tree is me. Maybe it’s just that I feel safer that way because I’m still a bit awkward with presents, or maybe it’s just that since Dan and I both grew up never complying to the requirement of presents on designated dates, there are rarely ever presents under the tree for me.
(Unless of course I bought them and wrapped them myself, or the kids made them at school.)
Well, this year, our kids are in middle school and high school so I knew there weren’t going to be any cute little toilet paper roll angels coming home. So when I awoke on Christmas morning to find a tinsel-wrapped shoe box with my name on it, I had to take a moment of pause.
My interest was piqued, and my brain immediately flew through the filing cabinet of last week’s memories. I had a vague recollection of someone requesting a hot glue gun, some fabric and a couple of old socks. That someone had seemed a little sheepish, a little eager, and brimming with hope.
And this Christmas morning, as the box sat on my lap, sitting next to me was that same little guy, on the verge of manhood yet still squirming and bouncing and wriggling like the kindergartener I sent off to school 6 years ago.
I asked, “Is this from you?”
Still wiggling and bouncing, with his head tilted sideways and those beautiful brown eyes opened wide in eager anticipation, he nodded.
Love. Pure. Simple. Wonderful love.
I looked up at the eager face of my 12-year-old boy. Straight into that hopeful, beseeching, wonderful look. The look that said, “Will my love be understood? Will my love be received? Will my love be delighted in?”
And I couldn’t love two old socks with any possible more intensity.
For once, a tangible, touchable present that felt like meat and potatoes.
I imagined his little hands, fine-motor challenged little hands, working to twirl the nose into just the right-sized orange cone. Working the glue gun with his tongue bent back between his teeth. Thinking about how one would be small and one would be tall, and they could be a couple. A cute adorable old sockman couple. Thinking about me the whole time, wondering if I could possibly love his creation as much as he loves me.
And I thought, I need not fear. He will know just how to love a woman. He understands meat and potatoes love. He knows that time and effort and creativity and determination are the ways to a woman’s heart. And he will always have this woman’s heart.
I tried to pack these guys up after x-mas, but after two weeks I had to get them back out.
Two old socks found their way to my heart. And I don’t care one whit if I have to dust them.
*** Don’t stop reading here!! Take a moment to soak up a little more love and check out Allison’s post at www.hopefulplace.blogspot.com. And keep following the links all the way round the circle!***