Giving and Receiving the Perfect Gift
The gift giving season is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you might know exactly what gift you want. I mean, exactly.
My 40th birthday was in November, and I told Ty I wanted 100 black velvet hangers. As part of my daily struggle with contentment, I tend to collect a lot of clothes, and I had just done a closet cleanout. I finally had a place for all of my things, and it was lovely. It was my little space—tiny but mine.
I read this article by a fashion blogger that said using black velvet hangers makes your closet feel like a boutique. Those hangers were all I needed to feel fully satisfied in that one little space, and I really wanted that contented perfection in some small part of my life.
For those that have read The Five Love Languages, you might have guessed that mine is gift giving. (Actually, don’t put me in a box—I require 3 out of the 5 Love Languages…sorry, Ty). But a gift is important: I want a wrapped gift. I want a card written. I don’t want something in the mail that’s on its way. I don’t want an IOU. So, after 16 years of marriage, I set my husband up for success. I didn’t ask for a trip to Paris or a $1,000 handbag. I just wanted 100 black velvet hangers.
A week before my birthday, we got three Amazon boxes on the doorstep. Job well done, Ty. I brought them inside and walked by these boxes every day—my “closet boutique” was at my fingertips!
When the morning of my birthday arrived, all my presents were wrapped in Christmas paper. In November. C'est la vie—my girls were all atwitter and ready for mommy to open gifts. And I had gifts! A lovely shawl, a cozy sweater…and finally my three big boxes. I saved the best for last. When I open them up, what do I see?
White velvet hangers.
I just looked at them. After a small silence, Ty said, “Um…Nell tells me that maybe these were supposed to be black?” Another pause. “I think I forgot that part.”
And then the final blow: “Are you sure you can’t use the white ones?” he asked.
That was the limit of my internal self-restraint, friends. In that moment, a (perhaps) unreasonable mixture of emotions swirled: “I am alone. I am unloved. I am not listened to and not cared about. I am not known.” Just like that—white velvet hangers undid me.
But I powered through. For the sake of the children, I powered through: Ty pulled out another gift for me, a surprise gift. It was heavy, and when I opened I found it was a weighted blanket. This is the kind of blanket normally used to sooth children with autism—which I am not—or people with sensory disorders—which I do not have. Weird gift, I thought. But I put it on my lap, and it was cozy. It was remarkably cozy.
Let me tell you: this weighted blanket is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. I don’t wake up at night anymore or thrash around in my sleep. I stay really warm, and I’m not stealing the covers from Ty all night long. I drag this 12-pound blanket (12 pounds!) to the couch when I want to read, and then back up to bed to go to sleep. I love it. My days are better because my nights are better, and I didn’t even know that’s something I needed.
But Ty did. He totally saw something that could improve my life that I didn’t know I wanted. He really thought about me, and he took a risk to remind me one of the most beautiful things about loving someone: that at some point, in some ways, you can know them better than they know themselves.
I think that’s the real magic of gift giving, and what brings us joy in finding the perfect gift for someone we love. Sure, they’ll be happy if you give them exactly what they ask for wrapped up in the perfect package. The best gifts though, remind the people in your life that they are understood, and they are truly loved.
And, just in case you’re thinking Ty only gave me a blanket for my 40th birthday: He also arranged for a lovely dinner with our closest friends cooked by a dear chef friend—it was a magical evening and it was all him. So white velvet hangers aside, I think I’ll keep him.
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