Thursday, January 04, 2007
Missing the Big Stuff
We were running errands, about 4 days after Christmas. Out of the blue, my husband said, "Bev, I think we should return the necklace." Supposedly, most men talk 2000 words a day, to women's 7000. Don generally runs somewhere closer to 1000, saving the others for a rainy day. He doesn't talk to fill space. There is purpose to most of what he says. When he made this comment, out of the blue - I knew I should pay attention. I was clueless. The necklace, what necklace?

Families come in two varieties - the first open Christmas gifts all at once, in a blur of excitement, ripping paper, tossing bows, amid shouts of exclamation. They're done in about 15 minutes. The second go around the room, taking turns, carefully unwrapping each package as if they're going to reuse the paper, handing over the bows to be reused next year." We're the second. There were seven of us gathered on Christmas morning, all around the living room. Presents all over the place, music playing, cinnamon rolls and juice - the normal scene. When my 'turns' came around, I'd exclaimed over, and profusely offered thanks for, new slippers, a yankee candle, a very trendy black trench top, and the usual two pairs of Claire's earrings tucked in my stocking by Don.

As the morning's 'opening' ceremony wore on (that's what it is at our house - takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. and has been known to drive a few of our add-in family members who are of the "rip them apart" habit a wee bit crazy), I'd opened a necklace. In a grey box. I assumed it was from Claires, and there was nothing on it to tell me otherwise. (I am allergic to nickel so Don buys me jewelry every year of the "sensitive" type.) It was a pretty little necklace, a contemporary gold cross with two diamonds on it. I stopped, gazed at it a bit, thanked him, showed everyone, then we moved on. I said thank you. I did. My gifts sat in a pile on the living room floor for a day or so, then I hauled them all upstairs to reside on the bedroom floor for a few more. In my defense, to let Don know I L.O.V.E.D. all my gifts, I'd worn the necklace one day. I even commented to him that I hoped it didn't break out my neck in those oh so lovely little blisters I tend to get. Thinking back, I remember him giving me a funny look at this comment, and muttering something like, "I don't think it will."

To have him suggest we take back the little Claire's necklace that I assumed cost $9.99 puzzled me. I wondered if I should have worn it more, thanked him more. When I asked him to spend a few more of his 2000 words in explanation he told me, "I just don't think you really like it very much. I wanted you to have something really special, so I took some of my allowance. The women at the jewelry counter thought it was beautiful and I thought I'd hit a home run."

Oh. Oh my. Bottom line - I blew it. I'd asked for a new shower head, a chopper attachment for my mixer, and new slippers. My middle name could be Practical. The last diamond my husband gave me was 25 years ago, because his middle name could also be Practical and we just don't do 'that sort of thing'. After we'd talked a bit, I finally got up the courage to ask him to tell me exactly how much this necklace had cost. I was stunned. (Maybe he doesn't need so much allowance?) He said he'd sat there, Christmas morning, as I spent 2 minutes looking at the necklace, then moving on, wondering how he blew it. He said I oohed and aahed more over the $5 earrings from Claires (they were really cute...). He wondered if I didn't spend much time on it to not minimize the gifts our married kids were giving each other. He gave me the benefit of the doubt, which was pretty gracious. I didn't deserve it.

We ended up exchanging the necklace because the chain was too short, and I prefer white gold. He told me he really wanted me to have one I loved. One I'd treasure. I've worn it every day since then. I want him to know, not how much I love the necklace, but how much I love him. How stunned I was by his huge expression of love for me, even if it took me a bit to get it. He needed to know I was aware of what he'd done for me. What he was saying. By asking for a shower head, chopper attachment and slippers (all of which he gave me), I hadn't given him the chance to tell me he thought I was special. That he treasured me. I'd asked for very practical things. I was completely satisifed with what I thought was a $10 necklace. He lavishly expressed his love for me, and I missed it.

Blowing it on my gift made me think of Luke 24:13-53. After Jesus is crucified, two men are walking on the road, discouraged by his death - apparent defeat. He appears to them, walks and talks with them, and they have no clue who HE is. They're even talking about him, to him, and still don't get it. All of a sudden, they realize it's him and he disappears. They run to tell the others, and in the middle of their story, he reappears, shows them his hands and feet, eats with them, he "opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Then he leads them out of town, where he is taken up into heaven while they stand and watch. Wow. If I felt like I blew it on a necklace, I can only imagine how they felt not recognizing Jesus.

I'd like to think, if I 'ran into Jesus' while out for a walk, I'd know it was him. I'm not so sure. I missed a big gesture of my husband's love for me; I automatically assumed the diamonds were fake, and the necklace an inexpensive thing to fill my stocking. They listened to Jesus lay out the scriptures, and still didn't get it. Come on - Jesus explaining the Bible? It doesn't get better than that.

While I treasure the necklace, (it's GORGEOUS!) what is more precious to me is the lesson I was given. Sometimes my husband needs to woo me, and asking for a shower head may not be the best way to allow that. Maybe I don't need to be completely practical. Lavishness might be more appropriate. Especially when I have an opportunity to pour it on someone else. Someone who isn't expecting it at all. Sometimes I'm offered a gift by someone's presence. This journey I'm on, maybe it's not always done best by speed-walking. 'Practical' gets a lot done, is easier on the checkbook, but slowing down, possibly even stopping now and then, so I stand a better chance of seeing the big stuff, that may be just the right pace for me, at least sometimes.

Sidenote: that would be a rash on my neck, brought on by two days of using Irish Spring with Aloe, instead of Aveeno bath wash - so you literally see the need for nickel-free jewelry. I have ridiculously sensitive skin.


  posted at 9:01 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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