My gift-giving history has some people wondering if I’m trying to kill my husband. For his thirtieth birthday I gave him a ride in a hot air balloon. When he turned forty I arranged for him to go sky-diving. Last year I sent him up in a bi-plane. You know, the kind of old-fashioned plane that has no ceiling and the pilot sits behind you. The kind where, theoretically, the pilot could flip the plane upside down and the only thing between you and disaster would be the worn leather straps crossed over your chest.
There were some sharp intakes of breath when the family heard about the hot air balloon ride, but most thought floating over the countryside sounded romantic. They were much more nervous about the idea of sky diving and one aunt made it very clear that she thought I was being downright irresponsible. Despite her fears, he made it up, and down, in one piece.
In any case, I am most emphatically not trying to kill my husband. He likes to be up in the air, and I like to give experiential gifts, particularly for significant birthdays that end in zero, that leave him with memories. Dementia aside, memories last forever. Tangible things go in and out of vogue; they break, wither or fade; or are too expensive to contemplate in the first place.
(If you read my blog regularly, you may be getting tired of reading about presents, but this is a big year for significant birthdays in my family, and they’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I promise, after this, no more gift posts.)
My sister told me flat out that she wasn’t interested in jumping out of a plane ─ I wasn’t even going to suggest it! ─ and my sister-in-law suggested I curb my Fear Factor urges for her husband’s upcoming birthday. Apparently I’ve developed somewhat of a reputation for giving gifts that leave people feeling that they’re living on the edge. And maybe I do, but isn’t it more memorable if your heart rate goes up a bit?
I can provide earthbound experiences as well; a trip to a day spa; a B&B in Maine. I’m dying to give someone the opportunity to swim with a Beluga whale at the Mystic Aquarium. What an experience that would be! Who wouldn’t love that?
As it happens, one of the upcoming honorees is a homebody who wants nothing more than to let the significant birthday slide by unobserved, no hot air balloons, no field trips, no Beluga whales. I’ve been pondering this problem for a while now and have concluded that in this particular case, the best way to remember a significant birthday might be to pretend it never happened. But there is a helicopter tour of Newport that looks awfully inviting…
This post is dedicated to Paul. Happy Birthday