Somewhere in the last week of January, 2006, Mark came home from work and emptied three plastic grocery bags on the kitchen counter. I could tell by the look on his face that he was quite proud of himself. With shoulders back and head held high he said, “Well, I’m not going to get in trouble on Valentine’s Day this year. I had to pick up some stuff for work, so I thought I’d get you crossed off the list.”
I said, “Wow, Valentine’s Day is three weeks away and you already got your shopping done.” All the while I was thinking to myself, geez you might wanna wrap something, or keep it hidden for a couple weeks.
No, he needed to bask in the glow of his accomplishment. And, he needed to get Valentine’s Day crossed off the list, so we could all get back to the important things, like making sure he was our top priority.
“Here,” he says, “your favorite chocolates. A nice big box of ’em. And there’s a card in there somewhere, too. Go ahead and find it and I’ll sign it when I get a chance.”
Will took one look at the box of chocolates and said, “Hey Dad, those caramel chocolates are your favorites. Mom likes that yucky dark chocolate stuff.”
Mark says, “No, son, your mom likes these chocolates. Just ask her.”
When Will turned to look at me, I decided to go out on a limb and say, “Well, actually, I have never liked caramel milk chocolates. Will is right. I guess you forgot that I like dark chocolate. That’s okay. It was sweet of you to think of me.”
Then Mark curtly says, “Well, I can’t be expected to know what you like if you are always changing your mind. Since you suddenly decided that you don’t like these chocolates, I guess I’ll have to take them back.”
There was no point in explaining that I hadn’t changed my mind. There was no point in trying to pretend that I always loved the chocolates. It was best to just say thank you, pick up the contents of the grocery bags, and get back to preparing dinner.
That was the first year that I decided to buy myself a Valentine’s Day present. I’ve not done that since. I felt the need to see what it was like to receive a gift, knowing that the person who had picked it out had actually thought about me while they were making their selection.
I picked some fine dark chocolate and, because I was the accommodator, I got some caramel chocolates for Mark, too.