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Practical romance

My friend Christine got me thinking about gifts and romance with her recent post about men in the doghouse, and I was reminded of my first Christmas with my husband (a.k.a. The Engineer) back in our dating days. He bought me aftermarket cruise control for my car. Seriously.

Right up there with vacuum cleaners you say?

Well, maybe. Would I have swooned for some jewelry? Oh yeah. But romance is about more than cards and flowers and gems. You can have all that and still end up with a dud instead of a stud. Flowers and jewels are easy outs. Pick one and I’ll probably like it.

No, the real challenge in my mind—and the real definition of romantic—is knowing your partner well enough to get a gift he or she will truly enjoy. It shows you’ve been listening and have given a lot of thought to what would please.

In that respect, in spite of what his roommate thought, The Engineer’s gift was wildly romantic. We had been driving two hours each way to another city every few weeks for weekend visits. Without cruise control, I was constantly battling my lead foot and my (then) sporty five-speed to stay within a reasonable speed limit. How much nicer life would have been if I had a newer car with cruise so I could relax. I definitely didn’t need any more speeding tickets!

Well, the newer car was out. We were poor college students, after all. But the cruise control… Who knew you could put something like that on after market? The Engineer, of course! And he installed it too. See? Smart, handsome, and handy. How could a girl go wrong? 😀

And every once in a while, he gets totally impractical and buys me something pretty that I don’t need. Like jewelry. Which makes it all the more special, because he also understands that sometimes I just want something that sparkles.

Tell your friends!


  1. Marie Pannone


    Nice Gwen! I’m definitely sharing this with both my boys! For now they are out of money, so they will have to get way creative this Christmas for their babes’ gifts. There have been lots of homemade cards for various anniversaries (one month etc. etc.) It’s been nice to see that they see the power of the written word! Your words may just have lots of power for them!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Marie. I think (most) girls just want to know a guy is paying attention. And homemade cards are awesome. Heartfelt words carry so much more weight than store bought. You’ll have to let me know how it goes. 😉

  2. Curtis


    Excellent writing. Seamless actually.

    Something I’ve noticed about people and their gift giving. More than a few individuals give away what they want or what they like themselves.

    • Reply

      Wow, Curtis, thanks! I did just find a typo, but I’ve since edited it out. 😉 You make a very good point about gifts.

      Honestly, I love gift cards. As impersonal as they are, I’d rather get one than something that is not my taste at all. So, we tend to give them too. But if I have an idea for something that I think the person would really love, I’ll go that route.

  3. Linda


    Well written and a true example of “real” romance!!! The kind that really cares about you and lasts forever!

    Your writing is, as always, insightful and thoughtful, not too wordy and right on point!

    and, as “out” as gift cards were when I was a young woman, they are “in” now as distances separate families and miles of experiences separate generations!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Linda! It means a lot to me that you’ve taken the time to read my posts.

      Hubby’s kind of romance definitely works for me. 😉

      I know gift cards aren’t as much fun to open, but it is so much harder to buy for people we don’t spend a lot of time around. At least that way I know they can choose something they want.

      Well put: “distances separate families and miles of experiences separate generations!”

  4. Reply

    Thanks for the plug! I remember my first Christmas with Darling Hubby. Spice rack and electric can opener. Loved them. I’m a cook. He fails with anything remotely resembling clothes. (really WORKOUT CLOTHES that didn’t fit–lose lose that year). He wins with flowers, trips to fun places, and anything to do with cooking and entertaining.

    Yes, the gift must match the person’s personality.


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