In BC times (“Before Child”), my Chinese American husband never missed a gift-giving occasion. Flowers were delivered on my birthday, or sometimes, “just because.” There were platinum earrings to match my engagement ring at Christmas. An emerald necklace was mine on Valentine’s Day.
It took me a while to realize part of Andy’s motivation was to overshadow—and in some cases replace outright— all gifts from previous boyfriends.
In AD times (“After Dalton”), Andy’s gift-giving prowess deserted him. One year he completely spaced on stuffing my stocking (a huge family tradition) or giving me any Christmas presents. Since that was the first year we didn’t spend Christmas with my family, that meant I had nothing to open on Christmas morning.
Our son actually stopped stuffing his face with gummy worms, looked over his giant wall of toys/crumpled wrapping paper, and said, “Mommy, you must have done something terrible.”
Andy, behind his own pile of wrapping paper, Kona coffee, See’s Candies, and bourbon bottles, looked everywhere except at me as I said, “Well, Dalton, sometimes people don’t always make good choices. And then they have to live with the consequences.”
I left them to clean up the mess while I took the dogs for a long, long walk and called my girlfriends. Since Andy didn’t grow up with
a lot any holiday traditions, the gal pals felt that divorce or murder was a smidge premature. However, they agreed that it was completely reasonable that Andy should sleep outside on the patio, especially since rain was in the forecast.
Later, I had a long talk with Andy about
his new sleeping arrangements the importance of men modeling caring and respect for one’s partner. This is especially critical when one has an only son that one does not want to grow up utterly entitled.
Andy was very contrite. He may have been allowed to sleep on the couch. With the snoring, farting dogs.
Perhaps Christmas night with the dogs was an unforgettable consequence for Andy. I may also have dropped a few
sharp, pointed comments reminders about modeling good behavior over the next month.
On Valentine’s Day, I found several gifts on my placemat when I got up: a tote bag that looked like an old school library card, a book, and some Vosages chocolate bars.
“Aw! What a cute bag! And a new book!” I exclaimed. “And which of you gave me the expensive chocolate bars?”
“Those are from Dad,” Dalton yelled dismissively, running into the dining room. He excitedly handed me a big red heart filled with at least a pound of See’s Candies. “This is from me.”
I hugged him and said. “Thank you! That’s so nice!”
“Dad took me shopping and I picked it out myself. And they gave me free samples.”
Andy appeared, presenting me with an even bigger red heart. This one was covered in red satin and held two pounds of See’s Chocolate. “And this one is from me. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Wow. That’s huge.”
Dalton glowered at Andy for a minute before launching himself at his father. “You copied me! But you got the bigger one! How dare you!”
Andy laughed and tried to fend off Dalton. As the inevitable wrestling match ensued, Andy yelled, “Well, I couldn’t have my Valentine be outdone by my own son!”
That was NOT the message I wanted my son to learn about gift-giving.
But it was something.