Yesterday was my birthday and the day before that was Daren’s. And with our 10th wedding anniversary coming up next month I’ve been thinking a lot about how gift-giving and celebrations have changed so drastically since we got together.
Birthday at 32? Lots of wine, sex and presents.
Birthday at 42? It’s all cake, streamers, sprinkles, crumpled gift bags and excited, sugary faces running in circles yelling “do you like it do you like it do you like it?”
Tiffany and Pottery Barn have been replaced by Homesense and homemade necklaces. Dinner at a hot new restaurant is now dinner at “that new place with the chicken fingers Leila likes.” In short, my expectations (like my breasts) are a little lower.
There are a few reasons for this:
1. We’ve been shopping for each other for 15 years and we’re running out of ideas. Clothes, jewelry, furniture, trips, books, booze, experiences, household decor, kitchen appliances, sporting equipment, massages, mani-pedis and fancy dinners have all been tapped. Livestock, gravel driveways and skywriting are all that remain and do you have any idea how expensive goats are? Though by some miracle of science they produce delicious cheese so I’m not ruling them out.
2. Unique gifts are too hard to think about and shop for between working, driving, cooking, shopping, bathing and all the other things normal humans are supposed to do each day. If we get 10 minutes to swing by Canadian Tire and another 3 to pick out a card at Shoppers that is a good year.
3. Gift-giving is no longer solely up to the adult. With the kids involved you inevitably end up getting what THEY want you to have. Harmony is working on her reading and insisted we get daddy a hockey chapter book. So off I went to buy Daren his 91nd book on the evolution of NHL goaltending. You’re welcome honey.
4. Expensive gifts just aren’t in the budget anymore. Discretionary purchases of $100 and up must now meet one of the following criteria: Can we eat it? Does it increase the value of our home? How long will they play with it (preferably in the basement or at a friend’s house)?
What about a quiet dinner out just the two of us? It goes something like this:
“Mommy and daddy are going out.”
“To our favourite restaurant to celebrate our birthday”.
“But it’s your birthday”
Yes I know. That’s why I just said we”re going out to …”
“BUT. IT’S. YOUR. BIRTHDAY.”
“I know and we’ll celebrate as a family later but tonight it’s just daddy and I”.
“I thought birthdays were for families. You said that when I wanted to have all the grade 2s over last year.”
“Well they are and we will celebrate all together tomorrow but right now mommy and daddy are having some mommy and daddy time.”
“Fine? Did you just “fine” me?”
“It’s just that I thought birthdays were for families”.
“Get in the car”.
I don’t begrudge a single one of these changes because they are part and parcel of the lifestyle we embraced with open arms (and wallets) when we became parents. But I do look forward to once again waking up to a little blue box that is NOT the recycling bin.