Birthday gifts evolve with time, age and priorities

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The betterhalf had a birthday the other day. Out of courtesy and fear of payback I won’t reveal her age. Let’s just say birthdays in the family have become routine and that’s good. I say routine because for the past few years the betterhalf has chosen to pick out her own gifts.
 Regularly she came home and proudly held up an item an announced, “You just bought me my birthday gift.” Now I haven’t decided if she thought I was going to forget her birthday or she didn’t appreciate my choices of previous birthday gifts.
 In my earlier years of gifting and before we were married my gifts ranged from a Black Hills sandstone necklace, a heart locket, to a nice sweater. She never complained and my confidence grew. When it was evident this looked like a long-term relationship along came the popular cedar chest and because she rose early to go to her job in Omaha, a new item called, “Mr. Coffee” with an automatic timer.
As the years progressed and we established our household, the gifting became more practical and included things she could use around the house. I was very careful not to have my gifting reflect too many “gifts” that would make her household chores easier thus creating an image she was married to a slave driver.
For about 10 years birthday gifting was easy. Each year I presented her a new carnival glass collector plate. There was also the usual going out for birthday suppers, a movie and if I remember even one time a surprise party. But, a surprise party was soon scrapped from future birthday lists as too much of an organizational effort.
Friends had always told me how lucky I was married to a woman who loved football and was a Big Red fan. They were right! Birthday gifting was back on easy street. A pair of binoculars was an initial gift for my football gal followed by a transistor radio, red clothing with “N” emblem prominently displayed and then closing out with a pair of red insulated coveralls that her mother graciously sewed a Herbie Husker on the front pocket.
Gifting the past few years has become a little more subdued and as a grandmother she has even become a little more subdued. The kids have moved home away from the old homestead and instead of a son-made Cub Scout paper weight, the gift of a phone call or card has become important.
Grandsons have taken over going out for birthday dinners now that one grandson living in Grand Island, celebrates his January birthday two days after hers. The two now celebrate a dinner together with other family members at his favorite eating establishment. At last it appears my birthday gift choices have been shelved and a young man has taken my place . . .  except for paying the meal tab.
RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

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