Years ago when I lived in
I took Risa’s lesson to heart. Many Valentine’s Days I baked. Apple pies with crystallized ginger crusts. Flourless chocolate cakes with roasted almonds. And banana cakes with chocolate chips and roasted walnuts, one of my wife’s favorite desserts.
For this Valentine’s Day I was presented with a problem. I couldn’t bake Michelle a cake because she had sworn off dairy products and sugar. No matter how much she used to like my desserts, a beautiful cake wouldn’t tell her “I love you” the way it used to. So what could I make or do for her that would show her I love her?
To be valued, a gift has to be appropriate. Finding the right gift means that I really understand who Michelle is and what makes her happy. That’s when I realized the best gift I could give her was to iron all her blouses.
If you’re Jewish, which I am, you’ve been taught that true gift giving (a mitzvah) is only genuine if you ask for nothing in return, not even a thank you. If you “give to get”, that’s not genuine giving. Selflessness and gift giving go hand in hand.
When Michelle opened her closet yesterday, expecting to see dozens of clean but wrinkled blouses, she instead found all her blouses freshly ironed. I didn’t create a handmade card or bake a cake, but I did give her what made her feel loved and taken care of and that was a good Valentine’s Day present. My gift made her very happy.