Over the years I’ve heard a lot of static about the appropriateness of certain Christmas/birthday /anniversary gifts. Some women are not happy if they receive a gift that’s not personal from their significant other. They might find it down right insulting if the gift is deemed practical or for the home instead of a more personal, romantic nature, jewelry, sexy loungewear, perfume.
Some 50 years ago, I was in the early years of wedded bliss when I realized my constant lament, “I don’t know how to cook,” was wearing thin. On both of us. Changes were needed if this marriage was gonna work. Shannon was a baby but Gerber’s Blueberry Buckle was no longer sufficiently meeting her dietary needs (I loved that stuff). I could make a pretty good tuna casserole and tuna salad but I needed to expand this one trick pony show and start ‘feeding’ us good, nutritious meals.
During the first 5 years of marriage and motherhood I was the recipient of 3 questionable gifts from the Hubs. None of his picks were going to score him an afternoon of hot sex or even a quickie but the dude was starving to death, so one thing at a time. John’s first ‘big gift’ was purchased at Greenberg’s jewelry store in Sioux City, so there was certainly some anticipation the gift was personal/romantic in nature. One would assume he was trying to set the mood with a lovely necklace or charm for my bracelet. Oh so very close. My gift was in a large box and way too heavy for a stinking eighth ounce charm. It was a set of red Club Aluminum pots and pans. Set him back 40 bucks when he didn’t have 4 bucks to spend frivolously. I WAS THRILLED. Bright and shiny, filling up every burner on the cold, useless stove. (Yeah, I still had to learn to cook so I could use those pots and pans for what God intended).
But it was a step in the right direction. It wasn’t long before I was tackling homemade spaghetti sauce (thanks to Wilma Duits, a fantastic cook) goulash and potato salad (Mag, my mother-in-law) scalloped potatoes and ham (mom), wild rice and pork chops (from the wild rice package Hubs brought back from upper Minnesota one fall), and a couple home made soups. Our waistlines began expanding as fast my recipe box-haha.
Hubs second ‘gift’ was in the same category as the cookware. Shannon had mastered crawling and literally lived on the floor. Babies learn at a very young age how to use their thumb and index finger like a lobster claw. This tiny claw can separate your arm hairs individually, rendering you gasping in pain and tears running down your face. All the while contentedly slugging down an 8 ounce bottle, ending with a petite burp. This highly sophisticated claw can detect microscopic sized lint/dirt/food/leaves/thread/ on any floor surface, and their range of detection is phenomenal. After Shannon fell asleep and was safely tucked in her 5 dollar brightly painted yellow crib, I’d sweep the hard surface rooms, then get on my hands and knees on the carpet, trying to eliminate what she hoped was on the menu for tomorrow. The struggle was real-time consuming and worrisome.
Once a week I’d borrow our neighbor lady’s vacuum cleaner for a thorough cleaning. Ida’s Kirby vacuum weighed more than I did and cost more than our 1972 Chevy Vega. We splurged on an area rug for the living room of our rental house where Shannon played most of the time. The carpet was approximately 1/16 of an inch thick. Ida’s big ass vacuum cleaner tried to swallow it whole every Friday.
Hubs arrives on my birthday with another wrapped box, this one slender and tall. Thank you Jesus, it was a $49.00 Eureka vacuum cleaner. I don’t think I’ve ever been more tickled with a gift since that one on my 22nd. I was ecstatic with his thoughtfulness. This wasn’t just a appliance, this was a remedy to address safety concerns and made my life (and Shannon’s) easier and better, though I did have to start supplementing her mealtimes with added snacks throughout the day since she had lost one of her main food sources.
Hubs went in kahoots on a gift with our toddler daughter one Mother’s Day. Since I had somewhat mastered mealtime they felt it necessary to encourage me to learn how to make some sweet treats, so they bought me my first Betty Crocker cookbook. Fifty years later it’s still my go-to cook book. I learned how to make chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies and baked my first loaf of bread and a pan of cinnamon rolls with Betty. My first scratch cake with Bonnie butter frosting came from Betty Crocker. Betty made me feel successful with easy to follow recipes and ingredients I usually had on hand. Not everything I tried turned out perfect on my first attempt but my batting average was higher than most ball players. I discovered I enjoyed baking far more than planning/making meals.
Over the years I’ve become a decent cook and a better than average baker. Most nights I’d rather eat my cooking than anyone else’s or any restaurant fare. Baking is still fun although I’m doing it a lot less often. We shouldn’t be eating what I like to bake very often.
Every Tuesday our granddaughter Ariana and great-granddaughter Jovi come over for supper. We love having them. They are a welcome break during our monotonous week. Jovi is almost 4 and keeps us entertained from the moment she walks through the door. One week she’s grandpa’s girl and wants to watch TV with him or play hard rock music (loud) and dance. The next week she seems to gravitate towards me and wants read as many books as we can and try and help with our meal.
Tuesday was the day before my birthday so they came bearing gifts. Jovi’s pick was a unicorn snow globe which she observed was sorely lacking in my life, plus an adorable wooden Christmas ornament from one of Ari’s friends who’s starting her own small business. On the bottom of the gift bag sat a small, rectangular piece of wood, which actually choked me up. Looks like I’ve gotten my first Yelp review. Oh my goodness, those 2 girls sure know how to tug on your heart strings. It’s always through the tummy…