Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

by Julie

My husband has come up with some great gift ideas through the years, but his most recent Christmas gift to me has the potential to rank up there as one of the best.

First a little recap: We've stopped buying a lot of "stuff" for ourselves and for the kids. We did buy them iPods a few years back, but mostly we try to come up with gifts that are more about the experience than about accumulation. My husband is the one who came up with the idea of taking them to see Wicked (also a few years back). Since then, we've done family Segway tours, gone skiing, and seen other stage performances.

Side note: I truly believe that cleaning our basement (remember that project?) has had a major impact on our buying habits. We don't want stuff here any more. You know - decorative objects that are cute but do nothing. Things that aren't consumable.

Anyway, in the interest of not bringing more tchotchkes into the house, we've had to get clever about our gift-giving. Last Christmas, my husband came up with a fun one for me: He would cook me dinner one night a month for the entire year.

Now... you have to understand that my husband doesn't cook. Even when we're grilling, I'm in charge. He's had some experience baking (his mother saw to that), but cooking is a whole new experience for him.

Here we are, in October, and I have to say that he has done a magnificent job! He'd disagree in a couple of instances, but he'd be wrong. Everything has been superb. He takes his time -- way more than I do -- he preps every ingredient before he gets started. In short, he does everything right and never cuts corners (the way I do). He makes everything from scratch.

His first dinner did take about ten hours, start to finish, but his timing's improved a lot over these months. The last dinner took barely more than three hours from start to finish, so that's a vast improvement. We've had scallops, ratatouille, ribs, lamb chops, pork chops, and more. He's made a point of using recipes that I've never tried, so that everything is new. I've since adopted a few of his dishes and added them to our regular rotation. Delicious, really.

As we approach the end of the year, I'm sorry to see this gift end. I've hinted, repeatedly, that I'd like this gift again this year, but he says maybe he'll take on the ironing instead. Not a chance!

What's been one of your favorite gifts of all time?



16 comments:

Shel said...

I just asked Chris if he wanted to see Curt in an apron. His answer, "Not really...." made me giggle hysterically. Seriously though, that is a fabulous gift. We're victims of a too-small house and too many computer parts, here. So I like your idea of limiting the "stuff" and getting creative with the gift options. However, I don't think Chris cooking once a month is going to do it here - he only makes one thing that isn't frozen, and he hasn't made that since we were dating. I've already got my librarian friend asking what I'm doing for Chris for Christmas this year - I know I won't be able to top last year's gift, no matter what I do! Last year I went to about four shops, and bought every brand of dark chocolate anything I could find, plus a couple of things of his favorite Dunkin Donuts coffee. He LOVED it - it will take some doing for me to top that.

Denise Z. said...

Great story. Your question about the best gift ever brought to mind two instances for me. When I was first divorced and struggling to figure out how to be, let alone make a mortgage payment, buy food, care for my dogs, get my ass in the chair every day ... I had so little money that I was down to, well do I buy the large box of tampons or that fabulous piece of salmon, which do I need more. That first Christmas, my bff gave me a $50 gift card to a book store to spend on anything I wanted and it was soooo huge to have fun money. That was a great gift and one I try to repeat now for my friends who are struggling.

And the second thing is, when my mother had a stroke and landed in ICU, my beloved showed up at my house, loaded me into the car and drove three hours over a narrow, boring, two-lane road in the dark just so I could be there "in case" and so I wouldn't have to go it alone. Oh yeah, and he used to randomly bring me giant Snickers and 32 oz. fountain Dr. Peppers when it was that time of the month. He's a keeper.

Thanks for reminding me of those situations.

Julie Hyzy said...

What a fun gift! It's always the thoughtful ones that are the very best, isn't it?

Julie Hyzy said...

My pleasure. And thanks, you've given me ideas for gifts, too.

Aurian said...

I am in the process of cleaning out my house, I need to get rid of a big closet/"wandmeubel" in the livingroom, so other closets need to be cleaned out too. As for gifts, it is so difficult. This year I want a navigation device for Christmas, but what to buy for him, I am clueless. I think I will get some fancy coffee beans at a coffee bean shop in town.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I like your idea of not adding more "stuff" to the house. having just moved, it is a wise decision.
A few years after my husband died at age 56, I was 54, I thought I would like to get on to the internet. I am now 76. I didn't want to spend the money on a computer but heard about WEBTV. My son bought me one for a Christmas gift. I was so excited that after he hooked it up and went home. About midnight. I decided to play. I managed to get on line and it was a whole new world. I called him up, after all he had just left,and said "Eric, I'm on the internet". To my surprise, he said, "Mom, it's after 3 AM, go to bed". So I have to say WEBTV was the best gift I ever got. I since have had 3 computers and still going strong on line. I was sorry to read that WEVTV just ended it service the other day. It was a great economical way for internet access.

Julie Hyzy said...

Finding the right gift can be so difficult, but so wonderful when you find (or create) the perfect choice. Good luck!

Julie Hyzy said...

I know - the "stuff" accumulates and then it's just a mess!

Love your WEBTV story. That's hilarious, Diane! What a fabulous gift from your son!

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear. I'm terribly spoiled. Mr. L cooks for me 6 out of the 7 days a week (and often 7 days a week). Of course, it might just be self preservation. I bake. I don't like to cook.

Adrienne said...

And you're busy writing, yes? He's giving all of us a gift of your time!

Adrienne said...

Julie, I love your post and especially the photo of the chef! This guy is really serious about his monthly gift to you: no frozen pizza's nor hot dogs for this guy. Nope. He goes all out, fills the counter/s with many ingredients (some of which have foreign names)and spends many hours creating a special meal for you. Maybe Christmas 2013 will bring you
TWO meals a month! Gotta love it. Enjoy!!!

SueAnn said...

When our son was very small, and at the age of realizing the meaning of "gifts", I would show him how easy it was to make someone happy with handmade things, or even a 50 cent candy bar. Money was not the important part of a gift,-as much as the care behind it. So....in my stocking from Santa one year, I had a home made card, for a back scratch once a week for a year!!! LOL!! and I got it!! He would scratch my back, as I sat reading him a book!!!

Julie Hyzy said...

I like the way you think, Adrienne! It's the most wonderful gift, and twice a month would be even better!

Julie Hyzy said...

That is so sweet! What a wonderful, thoughtful son! That's so great.

Rachelle21 said...

A poodle and a cat for our first anniversary.

Julie Hyzy said...

How fun, Rachelle!