Present Patterns

Albert and I love to give each other presents.  The kind of presents we gave each other when we met compared with the ones we give now though, are drastically different.

When we started dating almost sixteen years ago, our gift giving followed the pattern of two young people who are wildly in love and know squat about each other – profuse and generic.  We clogged the postal route between his house and mine with cards, stationary, love letters and small stuffed things.  We lavished each other with chocolate, large stuffed things and other trifles too bulky to mail.  We each wore half of a pendant on a chain with our names engraved on it; one half said Alb and Ti and the other half said ert and na, but I can’t remember who wore which half of that cryptic charm, solemn and binding.  My parents’ house began to look and smell like a flower shop; scarcely had one bouquet of roses begun to droop before a delivery truck careened into the drive carting another dozen.  I stopped short of tattooing Albert’s name somewhere on myself, but ironically, if I had, we would at least have one thing to show for those heady and improvident times.

By the time we were ready to get married four years later, our gift giving looked very different.  It may have started with one particular greeting card that I gave Albert about one year in.  It featured a John Deere tractor and it plowed the kitschy red hearts and sparkles of our puppy love under and set a pattern for many gifts to come.

In April 2000, we bought a farm.  My birthday present to Albert in May was a hand pump to set over the well in the backyard.  We were married on our front lawn on a beautiful sunny day in June.  I moved to the farm and we’ve watered gardens and dogs with that pump ever since.

It’s one of the few fixtures we brought with us when we sold that farm and bought this one and it now stands over an old stone-lined well near my front garden.

Albert’s parents’ wedding present to us was just as practical.  I’m not sure which gift Albert was more stoked to receive that day – a wife or a shiny green 318 John Deere lawn tractor.  Someone took the picture below just two hours before the ceremony.  As you can see from the vehicles to the right, the guests had already begun to arrive.

On Albert’s thirty-eighth birthday, I bought him a Red Limo cow from a local farmer acclaimed for his immaculate heifers.  The first view of our place when Albert drives home from work is the pasture and he almost sprained a splenius capitus when he glanced out and saw the strange cow in the herd.  We named her Birtha in honour of the occasion and she affirmed the farmer’s reputation; she was a healthy, well-formed cow with an excellent temperament.  A year later, she birthed a first-rate female calf with no complications or help from us. (Female calves are more valuable than bull calves because many females are needed to build up a herd and produce milk, whereas one bull can make many calves.)

Last Christmas, one of the best gifts I received was an air-powered nail gun from Albert; not because I’m so mechanically inclined, but because the opposite is true.  I like to putter in the workshop, but Albert’s nail gun is too big and heavy for me to handle, and watching me try to pat-pat a nail through a board with a hammer was a sight too pitiful for him to bear.

We’ve also discovered that sometimes, the best gifts don’t come wrapped or trimmed.  I didn’t wrassle Birtha to the ground and hog-tie her with curling ribbon; what I mean is that great gifts aren’t always material .  The best gift I’ve given Albert is to invite 200 of his closest friends to a surprise birthday party (200 seems a fair average; I really only invited about 25 guests but he has 400 friends.)  When I turned thirty-six last May, Albert cleared his busy schedule and we spent the entire day out doing things that I enjoy, just the two of us.  I got exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

I still like to receive flowers as much as the next girl, but these days, a dozen roses can easily run you upwards of $70.  Roses are nice, but for $70, you can feed a hundred chickens for a whole week.  Three red roses with a bit of fern and baby’s breath make just as big an impact and cost a lot less.  Carnations are even better.  They’re cheaper, almost as pretty and last three times as long.  But neither compare with blossoms budding on the peach, plum and pear trees in Springtime.  Their fresh, delicate and unassuming beauty makes an indoor vase of greenhouse flowers look tired and gaudy by comparison.  Fruit trees blossom just a few short days before their petals fall to the ground, rendering the time we have to enjoy the gift of their beauty all the more precious.


One response to this post.

  1. Thank you for visiting my blog!


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