We just had a great summer storm blow in. From our sixth floor view it looked incredible; water just sweeping over the roof next door in waves. My secret dream job is storm chasing, which Marc is always quick to contest since he knows that the two times in my life that I’ve been near severe weather I’ve cried like a baby. So I’ll settle for storm watching and I’ll always remember a beautiful one rolling over the city a couple days before Zoey was born. It was my due date and despite giving lip service to “it’s really just a day, there’s no magic behind it” I desperately wanted bunnies out of hats and if I couldn’t have a wave of the wand, I at least wanted to get out of the house and walk out my great anticipation (much different from super anxiety.) But no, here came this storm so I grabbed some tea, laid on our bed, and watched it wash over us. It’s a moment I’m glad I settled in for and didn’t walk away from as it’s something I hope will always be imprinted on my mind, the way it still is now.
Tea and storms should go hand-in-hand, am I right?! The calm and the chaos! I made tea for tonight’s storm watch too and, realizing the kettle was about five years due for a real cleaning, gave it a good wash. I tried to remember if it was a wedding gift. Yes? No? Was it the one Marc gave me for our first (dating) anniversary? I couldn’t remember. What I did recall was being so pissed off that he bought me a tea pot for our anniversary. At the time I was so offended, so lost in wishing he “really got me.” I don’t even know what a “really getting me” gift would have looked like but that wasn’t the point. The point was he was so wrong.
The Gift of the Magi is a story we can all get behind, agreed? Something strikes us about sacrificing for the sake of the other’s deepest desire. But then there are the gifts that you grow into. The ones that are not a perfect fit at first, that take some getting used to, where you force an awkward “thanks?” out through the confusion.
I used to hound Marc around birthdays and holidays (and Tuesdays through Sundays), passively reminding him that his presents never measured up. But at some point, and without my awareness, the teapot and all the tea we had welcomed into our home along with it, became pretty central to our day. It became our mid-afternoon break or cue to unwind after dinner. Asking “Would you like some tea?” and an enthusiastic “yes, please!” response translated to, “I love you” and “oh, I love you too!”. And along with putting some bread in the toaster, filling the pot up with some chamomile was the last thing I did before I went into real deal labor. Not so suddenly and somehow, making tea had become a part of our routine and ritual comforts.
We’re taught to frame this idea, the gifts of marriage, as all of our personal desires finally being checked off the list, sing it with me now, some day my prince will come! But it’s something wild to notice the gifts that go beyond filling a life-long wish, the ones that actually add to our relationships, our days, our persons.
We think we know what these catalysts will look like. I mean, we’ve designed them in our hearts and minds so that we’ll know when they’re delivered right to our door! That trip, the ring, that car, those three little words, that big move, the permission granted, the complete understanding, that total acceptance with no challenges…but they may surprise us. These gifts may be something we don’t understand or appreciate at first. They might be something as ordinary and “so not me” as a teapot.
All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot.
― Mary Ann Shaffer
(Please note that this post should not be used for the argument of a vacuum cleaner as “the perfect birthday gift.”)