Well, I can't believe it's come to this, but it has finally happened. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and my husband and I have agreed on a household item as our gift to each other. Granted, it's part of our bedroom furniture, which could possibly be considered romantic on some level, but it's not jewelry or flowers - or even chocolate.
The weird thing is that this was my idea. My husband is a romantic - perhaps even more so than I in some ways. True, I gave him the list of gift "shalt nots" early on in our marriage - vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances top that list - but he really didn't need much prompting. He pretty much comes through on his own in the holiday gift department.
But this year, we were both coming up empty when it came time to decide on the appropriate acknowledgment of Valentine's Day (also the anniversary of our engagement). And so I approached him with a solution, which he eagerly snatched up. Two people, one gift - and one that wouldn't be gone in a week and a half.
For years, we've known people, beginning with our parents and slowly extending down to people our age - or younger, who do the noble thing and buy one big household gift for Christmas or - God forbid! - wedding anniversaries. While I admired their selflessness, I always felt a little sad for them.
And so I thought that when I reached this point (okay, I thought perhaps I'd never actually reach this point) that I'd be a little sad. But I'm not.
I think a lot of it has to do with a paradigm shift that occurred when I retired. Everything - from the long-stemmed red roses, to the Pandora bracelet charms to the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate - has a price attached. And while this is not new, my perception of it is. Our financial planner laughed at me - out loud - when I told him I was weighing everything against the barometer of retirement. Do I need a Netflix membership, or do I want to retire? Okay, so that sounds a little ridiculous, but something happened to my perception of "necessary" when cutting back just a little put a dream - or several of them - within reach.
And I plan to do plenty of dreaming on the new mattress my husband and I are buying each other for Valentine's Day. The one we've been looking at for over a year - not a cheap one like the one we're replacing. The one with his and hers controls that seem much more romantic after nearly twenty years of marriage than they did when we bought our current mattress more than a decade ago because we know that the real romance lies in the fact that, despite our need for separate controls (that's a whole other blog!), we're still married to each other twenty years to the day after he proposed.
Happy Valentine's Day.