I want to tell you a story about giving gifts.
A couple of years ago I went to Osaka, Japan to renew my E-2 visa in Korea so I could get a new job working for Seoul Metropolitan Office Of Education (SMOE). Originally, Olivia and I had both planned to go together, since we wanted to do everything together, especially travel. Since this was in the early stages of our development her family didn't know me very well yet. She was told that she was not allowed to go with me and it caused a big fight and I ended up going by myself which made the trip much less enjoyable.
I did get to meet some good people--that is, my buddy Christian from UNCW and Steven from couchsurfing, and his wife. I got to meet Christian's friends too, which were all very friendly, but I really just wanted my girl...I hope you guys can understand if you ever read this.
The goal was to get Olivia something that she would like and make her smile. I bought some magazines and one even came with a Marc Jacobs bag, and got some other little things, just silly things...I also bought a CD of ...What in the heck was her name anyway? Well, she didn't like the CD too much, you know...She just didn't go for it! I also bought some journaling supplies and some stickers and kept various things in my journey of two days and wrote about it to her... I ducked away in Starbucks for a few hours when I was waiting for something and wrote a lot, I really did. When I finally got back to Korea I was really excited to give the gifts to her so I pulled them out, one by one, and you know what? She really didn't like any of it. Haha! I mean, seriously, she really didn't like ANY thing I bought her or made for her.
Of course, she told me this and it really upset me--how could it be possible that this from-the-heart gift be child-like? You see, my friends, it really has a lot to do with culture and something like this in America might be seen as a sweet gift...You know, I took the time to tell her how I felt while I was gone and brought her a little memory of it and some 'cool' things about Japanese life and culture. At the time I had learned next to nothing about pleasing her with things purchased so I was very hard put. Since I've gotten married I've learned slightly more, although not as much as I would like, and have now impressed her at least once with a gift that didn't murder my bank account. It's not that I am unwilling to sacrifice my financial well-being for her, it's simply more advantageous if we can both be happy for less, you know? Anyway, it's just sweet when it all works out--she's happy, I'm happy, and we've both got money to spend on other things we need.
End of story.
Oh, wait. This is the first part.
For Christmas we had both decided we didn't really want anything since we're not working and we can very easily understand this--we're realists. I was advised by my sister that there were some quality Singer sewing machines on such-and-such a website so I checked them out without talking to Olivia. Hehe. We had talked about how much she wanted one, since she has picked up quilting as a hobby, and had come to the conclusion that next year would be better. I disagreed privately but agreed openly. I finally ordered one and had it sent home via UPS and I told my mom to tell her she was expecting something and to call as soon as she received it. Olivia had no clue it was coming--besides, we were always together, when could I have possibly snuck away to order such a thing for her?
A few days prior to the arrival of our beloved sewing machine we went to Jo-Ann Fabric and found some rotary cutting sets on sale and I pushed her to purchase it since it was a spectacular deal--at 50% off it's hard to say 'no' to something we'll probably buy in the very near future...Unemployed or no. We got it--A rotary cutter, a grid ruler, and a self-healing mat. Oh, the glory! (See what we bought) Anyway, she was quite happy with this so I just smiled and pretended like that was all that was going to be bought.
Finally we all came home and found the box on the front porch and she had no idea that it was outside since she doesn't just go out on the front porch for no reason when I'm gone. We brought it in and I talked to mom about it as if it was hers and I asked Olivia to get the scissors. Haha... I 'helped' mom open it up and there it was, the Singer Esteem II 2273 sewing machine...Olivia was so happy! She was actually happy in an unprecedented way--it marked a very special day for us.
I've learned a thing or two now... I'm getting better!
You can watch our opening ceremony here: