Last week was my husband’s birthday. Who cares. I write too much about birthdays. It’s like, the only real thing I have going on in my life ... it’s always someone’s birthday, and I’m always available to eat cake.
Want to know what I bought him? It will probably disappoint you, but not as much as it disappointed me. He asked for a computer mouse. Right. Like things are so rough in our house, all Tiny Tim wants is a humble mouse for his computer. It’s a special one made with weird buttons for nerds or something, so it’s supposed to be exceptional. Plus, his old one broke.
All I know is, if you give a man a mouse, he’s going to use it on his video game. After his video game, he’ll want a glass of milk. He’ll spill the milk, then ask me to clean it up.
I love my husband, but when I ask him what he wants for his birthday and he responds with things like this, it makes me feel silly and roll my eyes a little. I can do better than a computer mouse. Also, ask me for something manly like a leather bound journal to write your feelings in or a new stereo system for your truck. I understand men enjoy playing video games and in our culture gaming is very common. But somewhere inside of me, there is an old-fashioned person thinking that using the words “men and video games” in the same sentence feels silly. It’s like me saying I’m going to grab some women and go play Barbies. It’s cool, we’re going take out our stress by making them hate each other, then be friends again, then change their clothes a few hundred times. It’s OK if we’re not all in the same location, we’ll just discuss what’s happening over our headsets. We’ve got to grow up and get back to our generic gender roots! You chop wood and I’ll bake a pie! Just kidding. I will stick to my ladies margarita nights and you can go back to gaming.
When it comes to buying birthday presents, I’ve went the mature route for 15 years with this guy. I’d buy sentimental, expensive, fun gifts. I’d get creative, whether it was simple or complex. Until I finally got a fed up. The expensive shoes never got worn. The books never got read. I’d accidentally buy him the same present as his mother. He never ate his chocolate fast enough. Are we really at the point where I’m like, “What do you want? OK. Order it.” Sooo unromantic. But sooo helpful!
The first birthday present he ever gave me was a jean jacket that had multicolor roses all over it. It was the 90s and I was turning 16 and it was expensive and he tried really hard to make it special and you have got to be kidding me. I told him it was ugly and he had to return it. Don’t feel bad for him. The first time I met him he told me I had broad shoulders and the first time he kissed me he asked if I shaved my upper lip. Both were true, but moving on.
He got better at buying me birthday presents and we stayed together for a long time. He supported my teenage rock star phase by buying me guitar strings for my Fender. He bought me a case of beer in college when we lived in Seattle. He got me the only thing I wanted entering my ninth month of pregnancy, some food. He successfully made a living for us to be able to move into our house. Being a burned out new mom, he bought me concert tickets to watch The Roots. All these were done on my birthday. November has many memories. Our life together has many memories. We have been together for exactly half of our lives.
Here’s the thing, it feels corny talking about tangible gifts when the other 364 days of the year is what really matters. I don’t think anyone would pick gifts over the sentiment of appreciation, affection, or devotion. That is what he offers me on a daily basis. The biggest gift he gives me is being himself, so it’s hard to think of his birthday as “more special.”
Birthdays are a fantastic reminder to go out of your way to show the gift of gratitude and kindness to the ones you love, but on any given day I’m sure the gesture is appreciated. My husband made the nice list this year, so maybe I’ll buy him something extra special besides his fancy computer mouse. Something extra special, like a potato. Because when life gives you potatoes, it’s the end of my article.
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.