Money has been tight lately. Though, I suppose it always has been. There was a rather smooth transition from broke college student to underpaid college graduate to chronically ill working professional. When my income rose, treatment options expanded and good health has always been the light at the end of tunnel.
While I’m fortunate to make six figures, most of the post-tax money goes towards catching up for retirement and paying for medical treatments. After all is said and done, we’re left with $1,500 annually for vacations, eating out, entertainment, gifts, and other discretionary spending. So, as per usual, we agreed to no anniversary, birthday, or Christmas gifts this year.
On my birthday, I received a funny card and was happy. But then, over the next few days, I noticed the mischievous “I’m up to something” smirk periodically creep across my partner’s face. After enough probing, he admitted that he ordered a gift and would be picking it up from the highfalutin shopping mall where young women wear bras and booty short and not-so-young woman have had too much work done. I scoffed and reminded him that we agreed not to spend the money. “You’ll like it,” he assured me.
A few days after my birthday, he showed up at the dinner table with a white box. As soon as I felt its weight in my hand, I smiled knowingly. And he did too.
You see, last January, I had been looking to stock up on wrapping paper and holiday gifts for this year. (Please note the itty-bitty discretionary budget above and forgive me for being a cheap-ass.) While browsing through things, I must have let out an audible squeal, because my partner immediately showed up behind me and listened to the gushing
It was a mug. With a Bernese mountain dog. Wearing a snow cap. I just about died from the cuteness. The mug had been discounted down to $1.99. But it was sold out. I moped for a moment and then moved on.
The next week, my boyfriend told me to cover my eyes and led me to his computer. When I opened my eyes, I saw that he had superimposed the hooded pup into a mug via one of those design-it-yourself sites. I told him, it wasn’t worth $25, but I truly appreciated his efforts. It was just one of those things that would live in my memory as “the one the got away.”
By now, I’m sure you can guess what was in the mug-weight box. Yes, indeed, it was the adorable Christmas mug from the year before.
But that’s not even the best part of the story. Apparently, he had bookmarked the website and set a weekly reminder to check if it ever came back into stock. And it did, a few days after my birthday. For $14, he would be a hero. But going back to the stonecutter’s creedo, it was the full year of checking weekly that touched my heart. I had completely forgotten about the mug, but he hadn’t.
So, that was the best part for me. However, the story gets better for you. When my boyfriend showed up at Williams Sonoma looking for a puppy mug, he was forced to explain. His girlfriend likes dogs, fell in love with this mug last year, etc. Given that it was an upper-class shopping mass, the saleswomen assumed that the mug was part of a collection of hints before the actual Bernese mountain dog puppy popped out from a box under the tree. I just about died from laughter when he recounted the conversation!
The best gift of all is thoughtfulness. Listen, pay attention and–if the love of your life falls in love with an out-of-stock product–stalk it obsessively for a year to potentially win major points!