My Partner Gave Me Cash for Christmas, and I Was Pissed — at First

Jessica Lynn

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

Last Christmas, I opened up a Christmas card at the same time (per partner’s request) my daughter opened up her card from my partner, and out fell wads of cash from both cards.

Me (more than a little irritated): What…you gave me cash!?

The look on his face was one of surprise: Who doesn’t like cash.

Daughter: Mom! This is great. You never have cash. Now you have some. And look how much I have!

Yes, pre-teens love cash as a present. Women — not so much.

I took a deep breath and thanked and kissed my partner for his… “gift.”

(You see, when you decide to have a child, you have to be a grown-up as much as you possibly can instead of doing what I wanted to do, be a baby, and say, “Why the heck are you giving me cash as a gift? What am I, your granddaughter? Your niece? A prostitute?”)

Cash was not the only present he gave me that year. He gave me several other nice gifts that he put a lot of thought into. He has good taste, but gift-giving and receiving are not important to him. At all.

They are to me.

I give great gifts to those I love. I’m the person who buys Christmas gifts all year round. If my daughter and I are out shopping together and she mentions that she likes a pair of earrings, I’ll make a mental note and sneak back to the store to buy them.

They will appear months later under the tree.

It helps that I like to shop, and I get joy from the look of surprise on my loved ones’ faces when they open a gift and realize it is something they’ve long forgotten about but still love, and the delight on their faces when they know that I remembered is what I’m after — it fills my heart.

I’ve never read that love language book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, and neither has my partner, but he teases me lovingly that all five of the love languages are important to me, and he tries to keep up with them. This may be true. I love gifts, I need to be touched and snuggled, I like to hear the words, I want quality time with him, and I respect follow-through.

I admit it. I’m high-maintenance in the love language department, but only with those I love, a small number of people. I take a lot because I give a lot. It’s a two-way street; I’m not sitting around waiting for my mate to do all the heavy lifting.

Relationships aren’t always 50/50. Sometimes, they’re 70/30. Sometimes 80/20, and sometimes they’re 100/0. It’s a give and take. Somedays, he gives 20, and I give 80, and somedays it’s the other way round, but combined, we try to hit the 100 mark.

I’ve thought about that cash — a lot.

First off, it turned out to be kind of nice having cash in my wallet for a good six months (it was a decent amount).

My daughter is correct — I never have cash. Who needs it? But occasionally, one does need it. Like, the Christmas tree lot only takes cash. The machine at the gas station in my neighborhood where we fill up my daughter’s bike tires only takes money. It’s nice to have cash to pay for some trivial amount at the store, so you don’t have to add to reach that ten-dollar minimum to use a credit card some stores require. It’s nice to have the cash to give a friend money after they’ve paid for lunch because you ordered together at a café.

Cash in your wallet, like gas in the tank, feels good.

It makes me feel wealthy, adding to a positive money mindset while out and about. When you open up your wallet, there is something reassuring about seeing those bills stacked in the billfold, it’s comforting and real. There’s nothing like cold, hard cash.

It may not have been jewelry — and I love jewelry — don’t get me wrong, but given a choice, I’ll take a guy who never does anything “romantic” but is reliable and emotionally secure every day. That is my partner.

He does little things for me that don’t count towards empty, sentimental romantic gestures just for the sake of the gesture. That’s not him.

Instead, he carries my purse in when I forget it in the car (which I do a lot). He gives me words of encouragement when I want to quit pursuing a writing career, and a few times a week, he will text out of the blue with, “How’s your day going?”

He fixes little things around the house before I ask him to. He cleans out the leftover and inedible take-out containers pilling up in the frig because he knows it is my least favorite thing in the world to do. He buys me vitamins and makes me take them, handing them to me with a glass of water.

He cooks me vegetables because he wants me to live a long time, and he doesn’t do any of that showy crap on social media that’s usually BS and covering for what is really going on — not a great reality. Instead, he shows me every day that he loves me in small, thoughtful gestures. He keeps his word and looks after my feelings. That’s love.

It isn’t in the expensive crap you buy for your partner. It’s in committing to the relationship every day, choosing the person again and again. It is showing up for the boring stuff. It is in the consistent, reliable things we do every day for each other, the stuff you can hang your hat on, the stuff that builds a solid, unwavering foundation for a partnership based on true friendship, one that is caring and kind but not loud.

The stuff that isn’t found in exaggerated displays of expensive romantic excess and repurposed on social media for likes.

Real, healthy love is in the everyday little stuff — the small everyday moments. Love feels safe, steadfast, and secure, it’s boring AF, and sometimes, it’s getting cash for Christmas.

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Writing on all things California and Texas. It unfolds here. Your daily dose of local news. From politics to food, from celebrity culture to current events. Follow me for the latest updates. Twitter: @girl_thriving

Los Angeles, CA

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