By Jenna Sutton, author of Coming Apart at the Seams
It’s that time of year again—time to start searching for the perfect gift for the most important people in your life. I believe in the adage “It’s the thought that counts,” but I also believe it’s important to give people gifts that are right for them and show how much they mean to you.
Unlike many men, my husband picks out really great Christmas gifts. That hasn’t always been the case, though. I will never forget the present he gave me the first year we celebrated Christmas together with my family, nearly 20 years ago. We weren’t married at the time, but oh, I hoped an engagement ring would be waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning.
On Christmas Eve, my long-time boyfriend arrived at front door, his cheeks red from the wind, and his lips cold from the frigid temperatures outside. He greeted me and my parents before heading back outside to bring in the gifts he’d bought.
Moments later he arrived at the door with a gift-wrapped item that was about four feet tall and two feet wide. He followed up with another gift the same size, plus a couple of rectangular items about two feet long and one foot wide. And finally, he brought in a stack of presents that were smaller and more irregularly shaped, but none that remotely resembled a ring box.
The majority of the presents were for me, including the biggest ones. My parents and I shared questioning looks. What could he possibly have bought me that was so big?
The next morning, Christmas morning, I awoke with excitement surging throughout my body. Today was the day—the day the man I loved would ask me to share his life with him.
Despite my impatience, we all agreed to have breakfast first before opening presents. I don’t remember what we ate, but I do remember my stomach being knotted with anticipation.
Finally, it was time to open the presents. My boyfriend—fingers crossed, soon-to-be-fiancé—directed me toward one of the smaller presents. I eagerly tore off the wrapping paper, noting that he had done a terrible job taping the corners. Without the brightly colored paper, I was left holding a cardboard box stamped with the words SONY. Confused, I asked, “What is this?”
Smiling widely, my boyfriend said, “Just wait until you open the others.” So I proceeded to open the other presents, growing more confused and disappointed as I unwrapped each item.
My boyfriend had bought me a state-of-the-art sound system complete with 4-feet tall subwoofers. I was baffled. All I could think was Why?
I like music, but I’m not a DJ. I don’t host parties at my house where people dance for hours.
Why would he buy me such an unwanted and bizarre gift? And even worse—the entire system unquestionably cost more than a reasonably priced engagement ring.
My parents and my sister, sensing my growing upset, quickly and wisely left the room. And that’s when my boyfriend admitted that he knew I didn’t really want a sound system. But he wasn’t ready to give me what I really wanted, and he thought the sound system was a good alternative.
I made it clear that the sound system wasn’t a good alternative, and not just because it wasn’t an engagement ring. It wasn’t a good alternative because he bought me something that he wanted, not something that I would like. Needless to say, that Christmas wasn’t the best I’ve ever had! And no one had the courage to tell me, “It’s the thought that counts.”
In my newest release, Coming Apart at the Seams, the hero, Nick Priest, puts a lot of thought into the Christmas present he gives to the heroine and love of his life, denim heiress Teagan O’Brien. For Nick, who has a severe stutter, gifts are a way of telling Teagan how he feels about her. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what he gets her, but let’s just say that it had a lot more meaning than the sound system my husband gave me!
What’s the best present you’ve ever received from your romantic partner?
Coming Apart at the Seams
Teagan O’Brien, heiress to the Riley O’Brien & Co. denim empire, is anything but a spoiled rich girl. She’s worked hard to secure her place in the family business and can hold her own, in and out of the office. Only one man has ever been able to get under her skin—sexy football star Nick Priest. Years ago they crossed the line from friends to lovers, but he left her heartbroken. Since then, she’s been determined to keep him at arm’s length—no matter how tempting he looks in his jeans…
Nick has fortune, fame, and looks that make most women hot and bothered. But he doesn’t have the woman he really wants. He knows he screwed up when he walked away from Teagan, and now that he has a second chance, he’ll do whatever it takes to win her over—no matter how tongue-tied he gets…