The Bibbed Wonder and I have very different ideas about birthday celebrations. While I like to be wined and dined for my birthday, he prefers a quiet meal at home. Although I say I don't want anything for my birthday, I genuinely enjoy a well-thought-out gift. He, on the other hand, can't think of anything he wants or needs and is annoyed by a well-planned gift. I like a beautiful cake, preferably chocolate with chocolate icing. The Bibbed Wonder has requested no-bake cookies for his birthday treat. Sigh...he makes celebrating difficult.
My bib overall-wearing buddy will turn 43 on Saturday. The Bean has Halloween plans with friends and will not be home to help celebrate. That means, dear reader, The Bibbed Wonder and I have time alone, unfiltered time without our kid as a buffer. What are we going to do to celebrate his birthday? Well, so far, I have suggested I take him to Clearfield to Denny's Beer Barrel Pub. The man enjoys a good burger, and Denny's has some of the best. He informed me he is tired of eating out and thinks he may be ready to eat again in February....maybe March. Sigh. Instead, he requested that I make him burgers at home with cheese, mushrooms, and love. He says it's the love part I lack, and it makes my burgers taste like hate and discontent...he seriously is the most exhausting human being I've ever met.
I suggested I order a cake from our favorite bakery, Cake Shotts. He informed me he doesn't like cake or pie or anything "fancy." Instead, he wants me to make him no-bake cookies. He also wants the no-bake cookies created with love so they taste special and not like a soulless, heartless tyrant made them. He also wants me to make them using...gasp, margarine...said with distaste and contempt. I prefer to use natural ingredients, like real butter. My bib overall-wearing cookie connoisseur says cookies taste best when made with (gag) margarine. He informed me my no-bake cookies are "dry and crumbly" because I use real butter. Seriously, it's a challenge not to inflict physical harm upon his bald little head. Who doesn't like a birthday cake with ice cream? Who, aside from those born before 1940, prefers margarine over butter? Where did this man come from? I don't know who I married sometimes or how we have stayed married. Who, in their right mind, doesn't like cake? However, it's his birthday, so I will make him a batch of his favorite no-bake cookies with margarine and love, pile them on a cake stand, and stick a candle in them.
I offered to take him to do anything he wanted...anything. A movie, perhaps, a show, anything out of our ordinary. Do you know what he wants to do, dear reader? He wants to stay home and nap. He wants to stay home and nap because Jordan won't be home, and he can "actually take a good nap, uninterrupted by slamming doors, yelling at dogs, or loud slapping flipper feet." Jordan does all of the above, but she increases the volume when we try to nap. The Bibbed Wonder's version of a birthday celebration looks very much like a typical day around here...plus a quiet nap.
My dilemma is, do I give him what he wants/asks for, or do I do something that seems celebratory? This is where I get into trouble with him. He asks for something simple, and I always have to take it up a notch. For example, he likes cigars. Specifically, he likes cheap cigars. Swisher Sweets, Back Woods, or Djarom cigarettes are his preference. Rather than let him enjoy what he wants, I took it upon myself to give him an upgrade. I bought him "good" cigars. I bought him a humidor, an engraved cigar cutter, a monogrammed fancy lighter that used jet fuel, and a variety of high-quality cigars that I researched for hours. He smiled, acted pleased, said they were good, appeared appreciative, and when he had smoked all the good cigars, he went back to buying Swisher Sweets. Now, his fancy lighter is in the top drawer of his dresser, collecting dust. I think he lost his engraved cigar cutter. The last I saw, the humidor was stuck on a bookshelf in my study, altogether void of quality cigars. Sigh.
I did the same thing with his pipe-smoking habit. I bought him a beautiful, fancy handmade pipe. I bought him hand-blended pipe tobacco from all over the country. I gifted him hand-forged iron pipe tools. Again, he smiled, said he liked it, acted appreciative, and when the fancy tobacco was smoked (using his cheap pipe from the Amish), he returned to Cherokee Red and The Good Stuff. His fancy pipe sits on a shelf. He uses the tins the fancy tobacco came in to store nuts and bolts. The fancy waxed cotton tobacco pouch I purchased is in his underwear drawer, and he carries around a Ziploc bag filled with cheap tobacco and his cheap $30 pipe. Sigh.
I did the same thing with bourbon and whiskey. I also tried to get him to upgrade his beer to specialty ales and microbrews. No matter how hard I try to introduce him to "the better things in life," he always resorts to his "cheap" ways. This year, I thought I might introduce him to Wagyu beef. However, I am sure it will go the course of the cigars, pipe, and bourbon. He will smile politely, pretend he likes it, and then make himself a regular burger. Perhaps this year, I will do exactly what he wants. I will make him burgers from regular old farm-raised beef. I will make him no-bake cookies with margarine and love. I will let him nap in silence, and we will call it a celebration. He's not expecting that one, I'm sure.
The thing is, I have the best of intentions. You see, ever since my relationship with my family deteriorated to what it is now, The Bibbed Wonder has made a huge effort to make me feel special on my birthday. My family doesn't acknowledge me or my birthday anymore. There are no cards, no messages of celebration or well wishes. It's just another day. Rather than allow me to wallow in self-pity, he goes way over the top to make my birthday week a celebration. There are dinners out at our favorite restaurant. There are gifts, always what I say I would like, usually just in passing conversation. There are fancy cakes and special treats like Italian peach cookies and maple chocolates. There are cards and ear-pulling. There are songs and books. He even takes The Bean, and they disappear so I can take a bubble bath and read in silence for a few hours. He works really hard to make me feel celebrated and loved. He has thrown me surprise parties and planned special outings that only I enjoy. He does it all with a smile and humor. He does it all out of love.
I feel like I need to return the favor. I feel as though I need to go over the top to celebrate his special day because he makes me feel so loved. However, my and his ideas of celebrating are vastly different. This year, I will try giving him precisely what he wants. I won't be able to not do something special for him, but it will be simple. This year, I will make the cookies with margarine, although it goes against my beliefs. I will make his burgers with cheese and love. I will allow him to nap in silence without interruption. I will give him the birthday he asks for and do it all with love. He's a simple man and enjoys simple things. He tells me he has everything he ever wanted and more right here on this farm. I believe him. I'm grateful he feels that way about me and our life. I feel the same way about him and our life together. As much as we joke and act like we are put upon by the other one, it's all part of what makes life with him fun, fulfilling, and rewarding. I wish everyone could experience this at least once in their life.
On this lovely fall day, stay safe, be smart, listen to what your loved ones want, do your best to give it to them, appreciate the gifts life offers, and keep washing your hands.