Fifteen years ago, M and I got engaged. It happened to be on the fifth night of Hanukkah, so each year we’ve done something special on that night to commemorate the occasion. By “something special” I mean that I usually demanded an out of the ordinary, show-stopping present, and sulked if I didn’t get one. Often we’d go out for dinner. Maybe even a movie. Never both. Both would require leaving the beasts with a sitter for four hours in the evening. Both is for a really, really big occasion and we haven’t had one of those yet.
This year, on night two or three of the Festival of Lights, M turned to me while driving and said, “I’ve gotten you something really cool this year for the fifth night. I think you’ll like it.”
Crap. The fifth night. I had been so busy dealing with the kids and their loot that I’d completely forgotten M. It wasn’t until he said it that I even realized that this year was 15 for us. After all these years he no longer needed reminding. (This was probably because I’d all but traumatized him with my expectations.) But I did. I sucked.
Luckily, I had ordered a rather snazzy looking pair of Superman pajama pants from Old Navy for him. He is notoriously hard to shop for.  Outlandish pajama pants are a good, but safe bet. I tried to think of something else, but I was all out of ideas.
The pants were a big hit. At least with the kids. M was both grateful and gracious. And then he gave me MY gift. I opened a box and found a necklace with a pendant in the shape of a giant vagina. With a gem shoved smack in the middle of it. That’s right, a giant gem-encrusted vagina to hang around my neck.
I took a deep breath. If M was alright with Old Navy pajama pants (which would have been grounds for divorce had I been the recipient), then I’d be damned if I couldn’t be gracious as well.
“Oh look!” I said. “A giant vagina necklace!”
And that folks, is my best shot at gracious.
“That’s your response?” he said.
“Well, it’s not just any giant vagina necklace.” I continued. “It’s a beautiful giant vagina necklace.”
Now I have an actual vagina which I don’t mind all that much, but I’m not sure I’d want to celebrate it by hanging its replica around my neck with a gem shoved in the middle of it. But I’m going to. I went back and forth on returning it, and M seemed sort of resigned to the whole thing because he assumes that when he actually picks out something he thinks I’ll like rather than buy something he knows I want, that it’s only a matter of time before I return it.
But I can’t. It’s mine. And it has a story now. And while I may not be  huge fan of genitalia jewelry, if there’s one thing I’m a sucker for it’s a good story.
And this is why I love M. Because he tries. And because he doesn’t mind when my best shot at gracious is so very off the mark.
Footnote: I will not be posting a picture of the necklace. M thinks the designer may come after me if I do. I also think that it’s better this way. Now, if you ever see me bejeweled, you’ll have to decide for yourself if I’m wearing the giant vagina necklace.
Footnote, part two: For those of you Googling “genitalia jewelry” and find me instead. I’m so very sorry.

Posted in children, jewelry, parenting, presents, Seattle on Dec 18, 2012