‘Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby’
Last week was my wife’s birthday. I shared with Carole my congratulations on the successful completion of yet another year as my wife and her taking another giant step closer to heaven. We had dinner at her favorite restaurant, which will remain unnamed, and spoke not of age. I did not, however, produce an appropriate gift for the occasion.
I will admit to a certain melancholy that surrounds every occasion when the presentation of a wonderful gift could bring a special moment of joy to the recipient. Alas, it is 2012 and I am ashamed to say that my ability to surprise anyone with a great present seems to diminish with each passing year. We have all the things we want, as well as all the things we need. Delayed gratification is not a concept embraced by many of us. Instant gratification seems to be the order of the day.
Carole, to her credit, surprised me with tickets for a Tony Bennett concert on my last birthday. It was a wonderful gift, as well as a wonderful surprise. This is a rare occurrence, since had I known about the concert, I would have bought tickets before she had the chance. That “instant gratification” bugaboo would have reared its ugly head again. Fortunately for me, I did not know about it.
I remember as a child my first dog. I was 6 years old and had been begging for a dog for what seemed to me forever. I was told, “Maybe someday.” Much to my glee and surprise, my first dog was delivered to me on Christmas Day. I had no expectations of getting a dog, did not care about size or brand or pedigree. What a great day that was.
In the day, Christmas and birthdays were the most anticipated days of the year for both children and adults. It was that time when those items you felt to be frivolous and unnecessary were brought into your life with love and affection. They were received with great joy and appreciation. You knew how much effort went into their choosing because you gave the same amount of effort in choosing the gifts you gave to all the special people in your lives, whether they be siblings, friends, parents, grandparents, teachers or the milkman.
My loss of giving and getting fun surprises is sad. It is my fault. I plead guilty as charged. If I walk into a golf store, I load up with whatever strikes my fancy. The same holds for clothing stores, bookstores and hardware stores. It is “Katie, bar the door” when I enter a Lowes or a Home Depot. Unfortunately, I have taught my kids well about instant gratification, and they have taught their own kids well. I cannot remember the last time I gave a gift to anyone that was a surprise and a joy to receive. Everyone around me seems to have everything they want, which means nothing is special.
Try to surprise a kid with a gift. Between the Internet, big box stores and the unrelenting pursuit of instant gratification, there are few surprises left in this life for our private discovery. I miss the days of my life when we adored and enjoyed fun-filled surprises on Christmas and birthdays.