Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, which meant that I spent the days before it in a futile search for a gift for him. We stopped getting each other big presents for our birthdays years ago, but we still have a family dinner to celebrate and I like to have something from me that he can open with the rest of his gifts. The problem is that my husband already has most of the material possessions that he wants and I can’t afford to buy him the ones he wants but doesn’t actually own. And every year it gets harder to come up with a creative idea for something I actually can get him.
I’ve already made him several photo books, and had his broken college “Outstanding Athlete of the Year” and MVP Baseball trophies remounted. I spent hours carefully removing the photos and articles from the disintegrating scrapbook his mother had made him and remounted them all in a brand-new scrapbook. I bought him tickets to see his favorite comedian when he was in town. My kids have given him photo collages of his grandson, had a painting made of the house he grew up in, gave him a key-chain engraved with his parent’s signatures and even made him a pen and pencil holder with a photo of his grand-dog that reads “I love Grandpa.” As far as sentimental gifts go, I think we’ve covered the bases.
By late last week, I was almost in a panic mode. What in the world was I going to give him this year? When I asked for suggestions, he went to his closet and handed me a new sweater he’d already bought himself and suggested I simply wrap that up. When I said that I wanted to get him something he didn’t already know about, he answered, “But I don’t really need anything.”
I was getting ready to argue with him when it hit me that he was actually telling the truth. We celebrated his birthday last night with a dinner at his favorite restaurant, surrounded by his family. He is in good health, has a family that loves him dearly and close friends he knows he can always count on. In all the ways that really count, he has enough.
I don’t know why it’s sometimes so hard to realize that we don’t really need more stuff, bigger houses, fancier cars and all the latest gadgets. Maybe it’s because we live in a society that constantly urges us to get more, and to equate having more with success and happiness. But the truth is that when we have a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear and most of all, people we love and cherish in our lives, then we really do have….enough. All the rest is just icing on the cake.
And when I looked at my husband last night, sitting at the table with his grandson in his lap and the rest of us nearby, I realized that I really was looking at a man who not only had enough, but a man who was very blessed indeed.
But that didn’t stop me from giving him one more thing, because I still think of birthdays as a time when it’s fun to open an actual gift. I found this by a happy accident just a couple of days ago, and I think it will go perfectly on his desk at work, right next to the pencil holder with the photo of his grand-dog. Some habits are just too hard to break….