My search for the elusive, probably nonexistent, perfect gift
Have you ever heard of the 5 Love Languages? If you have, chances are, you might have attended a chaplain’s marital retreat, marriage counseling, or some kind of couples/marital focused retreat or seminar. If you haven’t feel free to click that link.
I have been on enough Strong Bonds (chaplain’s) retreats to be able to recite the 5 languages in my sleep. I use them in therapy, at times. I curse the fact that Gary Chapman came up with this idea and developed them, because it sure would be nice to be the therapist that developed the languages. If that was the case, my assistant would be typing this blog as I dictated it to her, most likely while flying somewhere tropical.
I digress. The point of knowing which Love Language you identify with and what your partner and/or children identify with is important. I take the quiz every time I’m on one of the retreats and my main language never changes: Gifts. I swear when I took the quiz the first time (2006) the official title was Gift Giving. The website now shows it as Gift Receiving. That throws me off a little, but I’ll explain what it means to me. I love gift giving. I love taking the time to search through stores to find “just the right” gift for someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, their birthday, or a “just because” gift. I frequently bring back gifts for others on my travels, no matter how far or not far the trip was. My husband has learned to accept this about me, and has gotten better (over the years) of showing emotion and really expressing his appreciation of any gift I bring him, not just saying “thanks” or “you didn’t have to get me anything” and then stuffing the gift back in the box.
My mother also seems to have this language and she knows how to gush over a gift, no matter how small. My father does not have this. As I’ve said in past blog posts, when he saw the finished book he proclaimed it “fine. pretty good.” Not the exact enthusiasm I was looking for, but luckily, working with my dad for the book taught me more about him and I wasn’t expecting a big show of praise or emotion. That being said, you would think I would have learned for when Father’s Day approached.
Dad is hard to shop for because 1) he has everything he wants and if he doesn’t have it he can buy it 2) he doesn’t have a hobby or collection, which is great for a default place to start.
So when I was at a charity event to benefit ALS in May I saw it– the perfect gift (well, the second perfect gift). It was an autographed baseball, signed by Jim “Catfish” Hunter. This was perfect (slightly only less perfect than tickets to the Atlanta Braves game at Fort Bragg on 3 July). I knew I had a snowball’s chance in Mexico to get the game tickets, so the baseball was the best present I could conceivably obtain. You couldn’t just buy the baseball, it was an item in the silent auction. The signature was faded, but it was there and authentic (I Googled). I put my bid in and realized that my chance of winning was small. I had to leave the event around noon for another engagement (a baseball game, how ironic) and the bidding didn’t end until 1700. Luckily, my awesome friend, Jessica, agreed to go back to the event at 1630 and call me, discussing the current bid and what I could afford to go to. She called right around 1700, we agreed on a final price and then she called me back to say she thought I had won, as they had taken the bidding sheets away and I had the highest bid. I danced in my row at the stadium, and sure enough, a few minutes later I got a call from one of the organizers to arrange payment.
Fast forward to Father’s Day. After lunch and a brewery tour, I present the ball, in a baseball themed gift bag. Dad looks at it, squints at it and kind of just stares at it. “Do you see who signed it?” I asked, about to burst. He squints some more and says “I can’t really read it.” “Catfish Hunter!” I exclaim, like a five year old that can finally let the almost two month long secret out.
“Well, that’s nice. Thank you!” he said and hugged me.
“How did he like the ball?” Jessica later texted me. “I think he was underwhelmed. Or possibly overwhelmed, or tired.” I replied. She understands. She knows my dad.
Fast forward to late June, Father’s Day has passed. I’m at work and receive a call from my husband. He NEVER calls me unless there is big news/an emergency. I was with a client, but I took the call.
“Guess who just won tickets to the Braves game??” he shouted (if you know my husband, you know this is a LOT of excitement and expression for him.)
“Awesome, how many?” was my first question.
He wasn’t sure, but we had already discussed this. If we had won two tickets, they were going to Mom and Dad. We felt that as much as we really wanted to see an MLB game, especially at Bragg, that Mom and Dad deserved them more than we did. He later found out that we had gotten four tickets, so we could all attend. (Did I mention Dad is a die hard Braves fan?)
(Special thanks to Alicia, Josh, Cheryl/Eric, and everyone else that also tried to get me tickets LEGITIMATELY.)
I called my Mom with the news and she said Dad seemed ok with the idea.
We went to the game. It was a long night (game time was 2008, and we got there at 1745 due to parking, shuttles, etc). It was awesome! We were three rows from the Marlins dugout, and I could hear them talking. Braves lost, but it was still a great experience- a historic, once in a lifetime experience. We didn’t get out until almost midnight. I knew Dad was tired. Guess what, he was also somewhat underwhelmed.
Lesson learned: there is no perfect gift. The time spent together is the best present ever. Even if it seems underwhelming.