Buying a gift for Jon is a challenge. He has his passions — fishing/fly-tying, paddling/canoe tripping, cycling/bike repair — but each of these areas is fraught with esoteric paraphernalia. Too easy to get it wrong so I resort to gifts of money, a most unsatisfactory alternative.
This is not the way I was raised. Mom and I took gifting seriously. We hunted the big game: the perfect gift. The tsunami of offshore goods had not reached our shores so it was possible to scope out pretty well every modestly priced item around and choose the absolute best whatever. Anything less than a delighted recipient meant an annual mission unaccomplished. Admittedly we were all conditioned to evince glee but usually it was sincere. Life was simpler then.
Now life is awash in consumer goods. Too many choices. Yikes. And here we are again in August. First comes our anniversary, and then it's Jon's birthday. To up the ante further, it is our 35th. What to do?
One school of thought claims that “It ain't an event without cement.” In point of fact I have twice given Jon a garden statue. The first was a fisherman, in the form of a heron, and the other a Scottie, there being no hope of finding a cement Skye terrier. Both times I festooned them in big red ribbons and stood them by the door. Both times he went a week without noticing them and then did so only after I pointed them out. Not the reaction I had been hoping for.
Nor does the complete opposite — pure practicality—strike the right note either. A friend bought his wife a load of gravel for the driveway for their anniversary. I'm pretty sure you don't survive two of those in a marriage. Similarly, dishcloths make a rotten birthday gift.
Even a portrait can backfire. One year I ran out of time and had to present Jon with the grisaille. Months later I finished the painting only to discover that he preferred the underpainting.
The clock is ticking…. I probably should be arranging for that gravel delivery.