’Tis the Season for True Love And a Time For Giving … and Receiving
When I was dating my future husband very early on in our courtship, I had to sit him down and have a serious and somewhat sensitive conversation with him. No, it had nothing to do with him being a Yankee. But it did have something to do with family values and perceptions. And true love.
I took Mike’s hand in mine and looked into his brown eyes to explain that, in my family, presents equal love. As in, give me a present and I will know that you truly love me. As in, the more presents you give me and, in some cases, the more expensive the gift, the more likely I will be to see that ’til death-do-we-part notion as conceivable.
I know this will be shocking to some and perhaps confusing or just plain sad to others. Hey, don’t judge me lest you walk a mile in my fabulous yet excruciatingly painful bejeweled shoes. Once I knew that Mike and I might be meant for each other, I threw away pretense and got honest. I didn’t want him guessing or getting stuck in a guy fugue of “I have no idea why she is mad or what I have done.”
Mike was delighted! He found my slightly left-of-center candor, and that of my family, refreshing. My family’s Southern culture of “loud and opinionated” resonated with his own inner desire to tell it like it is, not how you think people want to hear it. (Though, of course, in Southern culture we are quite capable of telling it exactly as it is not, so as to not hurt someone’s feelings, bless their hearts.)
I remember the first time Mike observed my family in our natural habitat, the kitchen. We were all talking at the same time, over each other, trying emphatically to be heard and make our points. There was wild gesticulation as voices rose and it was hard to make out anything anyone was saying. And then the unthinkable happened. My mother turned to Mike and said, “Let’s ask Mike what he thinks.” I’m pretty sure Mike’s reply was to ask where the bathroom was.
In all fairness, Mike was a great sport and loved the energetic high of my family. Especially since my family’s ethos is pretty much the polar opposite of Mike’s upbringing in what I affectionately call “the eggshell family.”
The members of Mike’s family are salt of the earth people. Fine and loving and kind. They are wise and very intelligent. They are also very quiet. All of the Brady’s are great listeners — I know, lucky for Mike! I used to joke to Mike that a snippet of his family’s life would be a good SNL skit, “The Eggshell Family.” It goes like this: the entire family is sitting in the living room, ostensibly have a conversation, when, dut-dut-duhhh — the phone rings!
The ensuing “skit” continues like this (the speakers are interchangeable):
“Would you like for me to answer the phone? Unless someone else would rather answer it.”
“Oh, I don’t mind if you answer it … unless you want me to answer it.”
“That is fine with me if you are sure.”
“OK, you are welcome to answer it … if you are sure … unless he/she wants to answer it.”
“Or someone else wants to…”
And, yup, the phone stops ringing. Talk about your culture of polite discourse.
OK, maybe I’m embellishing somewhat and there could be a bit of artistic license being taken here in describing our families. But I stand by my assertion that presents equal love … just in case Mike reads this little ditty.