My Good Morning stories generally take me down memory lane and today it also presents a lesson in how to be a good gift giver. The key is listening.
The first chapter begins, in the present, in my beautiful Chicago. The second chapter takes me back in time to Washington, D.C., the third to Paris, and the fourth to Brussels, Belgium.
Yesterday, two girlfriends, Penelope and yours truly, spent two hours over lunch in non-stop conversation! When we are together I always wonder…whose on first! It has been that way since we met. Penelope and I are writers, doers, shoppers, wives, mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends and volunteers. We decided over lunch to add two more designations behind our names; we are relevant and visible women, darlings.
At one point, our conversation turned to gifts of love when I admired her earrings.
“I love your earrings!” I said.
She replied, “My husband is ultra sentimental. He buys my jewelry and surprises me with beautiful hand picked pieces on my birthday and other special occasions. He leaves me $2 bills and tender notes in books or a shoe!”
As I mentioned our conversation was continuous… talk, talk, talk, for over two hours. It ended with Penelope insisting on paying our check.
“The check is mine, Susan. I know your birthday is next week… Happy Birthday.”
After lunch, we went our separate ways. I walked home with a bounce to my step because I had a wonderful time and …I had my story, darlings… gifts from the heart!
How to be a good gift giver
After 25 years of marriage I could write a novel about gifts my husband has given me on birthdays, anniversaries and as he always says, “every day is your birthday.” (If you haven’t “met” my husband Shelly, meet him here.)
Instead I will tell you three short stories about “gifts from his heart.”
Know the recipient’s taste
The first year of our marriage, my birthday present was a double strand of gold beads and diamonds and matching earrings.
We were dining in the French restaurant, Jean-Louis Pallidan, in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
My husband asked permission to leave the table for a few minutes, explaining that he wanted to introduce himself to an older woman seated at the table behind us. I did not turn my head to look in her direction.
My husband returned to the table and told me the woman was Sally Sirkin Lewis, a famous interior designer from Los Angeles. He mentioned that they had friends in common; then he changed the subject. I thought nothing of it.
When we left the restaurant I turned to the woman, smiled and said to my husband, “I love her gold beads.”
One month later, on my birthday, Shelly asked me to open two boxes that purposely looked business-like. I thought they were from the bank. What was inside? The double strands of gold beads that Sally Sirkin Lewis had been wearing that evening; the matching earrings and of course a hand written note from Shelly that is now tucked safely away in my memory drawer. It read…
The reason I left you alone at the table at Jean-Louis was because I noticed the gold beads around Sally S. Lewis’s neck. I wanted to buy them for you. Sally, happily gave me the name of the jeweler and you, unintentionally, gave me the green light when you said, “I love her gold beads!’”
My birthday wish for you is that our life together will always shine like this gift of love, these gold beads. Happy Birthday.
We flew across the pond to France and wandered one sunny afternoon down the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore and stopped in at Hermes to ‘just look’ darlings!
“May I help you” said a very chic Madame.
“By chance,” I inquired, “do you have any Kelly bags in stock. I do know the lead time is at least six months.”
“Oooh la la,” she replied. “Today may be your lucky day!” A Kelly bag, in the newest color just arrived. It is the only bag in our shop!”
I turned to Shelly for approval. “Take a look,” he said smiling. The chic Madame brought out the bag in its beautiful Hermes orange covered box. She slowly opened it and I fell in love, darlings. I turned to my husband as he said, “Do you love it?”
“I adore it,” I exclaimed.
He looked at the Madame and said to her, “Wrap it up!” And then he looked at me and with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, he said, “Every day is your birthday, Suzi.”
I don’t know who was luckier the second time around… the Hermes shop or me because it happened again, darlings. One Birkin bag in a fabulous color; one wife who loved the color, and one generous husband in tow, who said, “Every day is my wife’s birthday. Wrap it up!”
Listen to the recipient
Shelly and I were on an evening flight to Brussels. It was December, the month of our anniversary.
“What would you like for your anniversary?” he asked.
“I know exactly what I would love,” I replied. “Chandelier earrings and the matching necklace designed by Van Cleef and Arpels.”
“What are chandelier earrings?” Shelly asked.
For the life of me he could not understand my description so I finally said, “I will show them to you when we return to America.”
Three nights later, we were invited to my close French girlfriend’s home for dinner in Brussels. We walked in and there was my girlfriend, Florence, wearing the exact chandelier earrings and necklace, that I was trying to describe to Shelly on the flight over! I could not believe my eyes, darlings!
I turned to Shelly and in a startled voice said, “Shelly, those are the exact chandelier earrings and necklace I was trying to describe to you on the flight over… on Florence!!”
On December 22, our anniversary, a beautifully wrapped gift was presented to me and I can happily say the chandelier earrings and necklace, this time darlings, were on me!
Before signing off I want to tell you ‘a Florence story.’ My girlfriend is very French, very wealthy, and very learned. At one of her dinner parties in Paris I wore a pair of my “formal” earrings… that cost $14 at Target! When Florence saw them she said, “I have to have those earrings! They are gorgeous.” I was going to take them off and give them to her but noticed she did not have pierced ears! I am smiling because it is all about style, darlings…not about cost.
I know we all adore receiving ‘I love you gifts.’ I hope you feel as much joy in giving as receiving. I hope you take your time and pick the perfect gift for that loved one. It does not have to be expensive. It has to be thoughtful and come from your heart.
I would love to hear about some of your most meaningful gifts. Do you have any tips for how to be a good gift giver? You can comment below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. Let’s talk!