We never could quite figure out how to find the next best gift for each other, so we finally reverted to the one thing that frustrated gift-giving couples will say to each other to avoid the topic:
"Just don't buy me anything, and I won't buy you anything. Deal?"
So in 5 years, of all the Valentine's days, anniversaries, Christmas holidays, birthdays, etc. I think I can only recall ever really receiving about 3 gifts from him.
And I love it.
Instead, we've made a pact to just blow our money on a fabulous evening out anytime we're "supposed" to be buying each other presents. We're in the business of making memories, as my Grandma would say, and not draining our bank accounts to out do each other's creativity. And so far it's worked. We dine at incredible restaurants, we go repelling on zip lines, we go to the Final Four, we horse back ride (ok, so that was MY day to pick something) - but you get the point.
We've learned to value the moments of seeing the look on each other's face the first time we do something new or see a new place. It's the same feeling you get when you watch someone open a gift you know they'll love - only you get to do it, too.
But for our second wedding anniversary, JJ took the cake in the memories department. We actually did give each other gifts this go around and although I thought my gift would trump his, hands down, he definitely took the crown.
As I came home from work the other day, I walked in the house only to find a sheepish grin on his face with a half-bent smile running up his cheek. With his eyes dancing and the wiggle of his "I know something you don't know" dance, he pulled out an envelope with my name on it.
And dared me to open it.
The front said Happy Anniversary and there was a thin piece of paper wrapped up inside an envelope bearing his company letterhead. (Ok - on that note, he took the easy road, but it's what was inside that counts.)
After moments of challenging his dance with "I don't cares" and my own cocky grin, I finally gave in and ripped open the letter. Inside, was a plane ticket to Chicago.
My first thought was, "Awesome! How sweet! He planned a trip for us and I bet he's planned something totally cool for us to do. When do we leave?!"
As I flooded him with questions, he said, "Look again. I'm not going."
Dazed and confused, I looked at the ticket again. Sure enough, it was for one passenger. ME. And only Me. As I processed what was going on, my mind raced with the obvious question: Why would you send me somewhere ALONE for our anniversary? Ok, JJ - worst gift ever!
But before I could blurt out my objections, he told me he had arranged for my two best friends to take the day off work to pick me up at the airport in Chicago on the day of my arrival. He had secretly maneuvered for us all to be in the city together for three blissful days to do 'whatever it is you girls do' when you're together - something we die to do as often as possible, even though it never seems to be enough.
He had used every email, Facebook, and text message trick behind my back to set this up for me and I was blindsided - fabulously blindsided. As I screeched with excitement and called them both to blurt out the good news (as if they didn't know), I quietly rememebered why I married the most wonderful man in the world.
Of all the gifts he could give me - he gave me time with my best friends.
And that's a gift you never forget.