Creating a Special Occasion Book--a Mother's Day Idea - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Creating a Special Occasion Book--a Mother's Day Idea

The other day, I came across this idea for Mother's Day on the site Baby Gizmo:

Image courtesy of Baby Gizmo

Rather than collect years worth of loose cards that will inevitably get lost in the enormous kid detritus our little darlings leave in their hurricane-like wake, blogger Gretchen Bossio has a lovely bound journal in which her husband and kids draw pictures and write notes each year for Mother's Day.

Considering the fact you can wade nearly hip-deep in the blank notebooks I have bought and received as gifts throughout the years, and the fact that commemorating my offspring's childhood was the whole reason I got into blogging in the first place, I could not ask for a more appreciated Mother's Day gift.

So I did. Ask for that gift, I mean.

Just some background:

J and I tried to do the coy/what a surprise!/I'll-try-to-find-you-the-perfect-present-on-my-own-because-I-love-you-and-know-you-well/Miss Manners approved method of gift-giving for years.

It didn't take.

Though J and I truly do know each other well, that does not really give us perfect insights into each other's wants and needs on the regular gift-giving occasion schedule dictated by our calendar.

There are two ways that we have dealt with this:

1. We purchase experiences for ourselves or the whole family for gift-giving occasions. For example, we went to Morton's steak house for our fifth wedding anniversary last August and did not otherwise exchange gifts. We both loved it.

2. We tell each other what we want. For Chanukah last year, J told me he wanted some shaving accessories that he would never buy for himself. (He has started using the old school safety razors and needed a cup for shaving cream and a brush stand and simply couldn't pull the trigger on an unnecessary purchase when he was perfectly capable of standing the brush on end and using the cap of the foaming cream for distribution of said cream.) I know that he liked his gift, despite the fact that he immediately grew a beard and has not since needed to use any aspect of the gift.

While the asking method of dealing with the gift-giving dilemma does not sound particularly romantic, I couldn't be more pleased with it. For my birthday, I told J exactly what I wanted (some flowers, a little to-do, and not having to cook dinner or clean up afterwards), and I got it!

And according to some recent studies, most people are happier getting the gifts they pick out for themselves. Since J and I don't have a horse in the giving a gift game (to each other, at least), we're cool with this dynamic.

So that means that I specifically told J that I wanted to start a Special Occasion book. (Because there are so many reasons why our kids and we might want to give each other a card. I'd love to have Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, the all-important card-exchanging holiday that is Arbor Day, etc all commemorated in the same book.) We'll be able to look back over several years worth of important family moments with our Special Occasion book.


It's frugal. No need to drop $6 on a card (seriously, that's a price.)

Now, despite the fact that my house is lousy with blank books, I still went out and bought a new one for this. (And...there goes the frugality...And any aspect of a surprise, although we all knew that Mom was going to be the point person on this to start with anyway.)

You see, all of my blank books are lined, and I wanted something with blank pages. I also wanted something that could easily lay flat so little fingers would have an easy time drawing and writing. And pretty much any excuse I can find for buying a blank book will be used by this particular Mensch (who really ought to use some of the ones she's got lying around the house). So, without further ado, here is my Mother's Day gift to myself:

I have also requested cinnamon rolls and the ability to sleep in on Mother's Day. I know the cinnamon rolls are forthcoming (from Zingermans, no less!), but I'm not holding my breath on the sleep.

Overall, I'm very pre-satisfied with my Mother's Day.

And I really can't wait to see how our Special Occasion book shapes up.

What kinds of family traditions do you have for holiday and gift-giving occasions?



haverwench said:

Huh. I'm glad that the direct approach to gift-giving works for you and J, and I'm sure my husband would really appreciate it if I would do the same, but to me, telling him what to give me just spoils the whole experience. I mean, what's the difference between that and just buying it for myself? In fact, Brian has occasionally suggested that he just give me "permission" to buy myself whatever I want for my birthday, and I didn't see the point of that at all. How is it a gift if I buy it for myself? It just makes me feel like he didn't know enough about me, or care enough about me, to think about what I would like.

It's not as if I'm even making it that difficult for him; I'm always mentioning things that I like and saying, "But I'm just not sure it's worth the money"--but he never remembers them. I leave catalogues sitting around with pages turned down, but he never notices them. I even have a Wishlist on Amazon.com, and to my knowledge, he has never once even bothered to look at it. I suspect the only way to get him to give me a present I'll like (or, for some occasions, to give me a present at all) is to do what you do; march right up to him and say, "I WANT THIS FOR MY BIRTHDAY. GIVE IT TO ME." Maybe it's stupid of me to consider that one last step just going a bit too far, but I can't help feeling like there should be at least a *little* bit of pretense that he actually put some thought into it.

May 7, 2014 10:42 AM

Emily Guy Birken said:

I definitely get it! For us, though, we get the surprise/thoughtfulness in *how* we do the giving.

For me, I love wrapping J's presents nicely, or hiding cards around the house for him to find. That's so much more fun for me than stressing over finding something he'll like.

And J likes to do silly things with the presents he gets me. For instance, the Zingerman's cinnamon rolls for Mother's Day arrived yesterday (which J was not happy about--he wanted them to be here on Friday or Saturday for maximum freshness, even though I told him they'd be dandy in the freezer). On the attached card that came with the rolls, he'd put an inside joke for me to find. (He then went on to talk about all the other potential [somewhat risque] jokes he'd considered putting on the card, which kept me laughing over dinner).

Also, while you're right that there is no real difference between telling J what to get me and getting it for myself, I'd never actually spend the money on gourmet cinnamon rolls for myself, even if I gave myself (and he gave me) permission to do so. There's something about it being a gift from him.

That being said, if I find a gift that I know J would like, I'm happy to purchase it for him. It's just that those sorts of happy discoveries seem fairly few and far between. (That, or they're ridiculous expensive. My man tends to have spendy tastes and hobbies).

Basically, this works for us, but YMMV. I'll probably do a post soon about the complexities of gift giving, because it is such a fraught subject.

Here's hoping you get exactly what you want for the next gift-giving occasion.

May 7, 2014 12:36 PM

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