My birthday was last week. My husband gave me a beautiful card and what he called a "token" gift: a bottle of very nice zinfandel. He definitely gets points for knowing my favorite wine, as well as for trying to buy the label I prefer, even if it wasn't to be found in our neighborhood.
But to be honest, I feel like a bottle of wine is the kind of gift you give to a date you're hoping to get lucky with; not the kind of present you offer to your wife of nearly 17 years. Not to say that the wine wasn't lovely. It's just not a gift that says, "I love you honey, and I really appreciate you bearing my two children, not to mention all these years you've spent picking up my dirty underwear from the bedroom floor."
No, to say all that, you've got to give something a little more meaningful. A little more permanent.
So I took matters into my own hands.
Just about this time last year, Charles and I lost our camera. Not surprisingly, we don't agree on how that happened. We had gone to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with friends, then Charles dropped me and my girlfriends off at a restaurant and took the kids home. I could have sworn I left the camera in the trunk of the car; he's positive I took it into the restaurant with me. (It's a real possibility that we left it sitting on top of the trunk.) Either way, we never saw it again, and we've spent the past year sans camera. I've been taking most of my pictures on my cell phone, which may be convenient, but it's hardly high quality.
So I told Charles that he would be buying me a new camera as a birthday gift, and then I went and picked it up for myself. I'm very pleased with my new Nikon CoolPix. I've never had a point-and-shoot before, being kind of a DSLR snob. But this little camera is sweet. It cost nearly nothing, since it's a (gasp!) 2009 model. It's tiny and weightless, and slips right into the front pocket of my bag. And it's a cool race car red. Oh, yeah, it takes pretty good pictures too.
Now I feel like I got a meaningful gift. The gift of recording the significant and trivial events in my family's lives. The gift of logging my crafting successes and failures. The gift of sharing these moments with my friends and family. And the gift of feeling empowered. All this in a 3-ounce piece of fiberglass and electronics. Not too shabby.