The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 3

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Anniversary Gifts

She wanted a new mixer for their anniversary. Not the most romantic of gifts, but all the chefs on her favorite cooking shows have this mixer. She imagines all the wonderful cakes, cookies and pastries she could create if only she had the same mixer all the professionals use. Maybe start a business selling her creations. She’s been making baked goods for family and friends for years, but has always laughed off their suggestions that she should go into business for herself. “Taking care of my family is my business and it’s a full time job”, she tells everyone. But she dreams of doing what she tells everyone she doesn’t have time for, and she knows her husband understands this dream. They’ve never talked about it, but he knows how much she loves to bake; he’s aware of how many cooking shows are recorded on their DVR. He must. He complains about it constantly.

Instead of a mixer, her husband presents her with a canvas he’s painted–a portrait of her and their kids inspired by a photo he snapped at the Grand Canyon last summer. She tells him she loves it, how touched she is by such a thoughtful, personal gift. But she doesn’t love it. Painting is his hobby, not hers. If he’d thought of her instead of himself, he would have realized that she had her own dreams. None of which had anything to do with painting.

He wanted an easel and a new set of artist brushes for their anniversary. He works at the bank 40 hours a week, but only because he has a family to support. His wife often suggests that with his degree in fine art, perhaps the bank president would let him paint some canvases to replace the tacky reproductions currently hanging in the bank lobby. The first time she suggested it, he was excited about the possibility. It was only after he overheard his wife’s phone conversation with her sister that he realized she was being sarcastic. That she didn’t really think his art was good enough to hang in a small town bank lobby, let alone in any art gallery. Now when she makes that suggestion, he laughs and nods his head.  But it hurts just the same.

Instead of an easel and artist brushes, his wife gave him a new suit and tie. Dress for success she’d always heard. Besides, the senior loan officer at the bank was about to retire, and a promotion for her husband was a real possibility. Maybe being in a management position would make him happier at his job. Maybe even enough for him to put away his art supplies so they could reclaim the guest room back from his ever growing hobby. He tells her he loves it. She has the best taste in clothes, and he’s so grateful to have a wife who supports his career.

He spends the rest of the day painting dark clouds over the valley in his latest landscape.

And the elephants feed and grow.

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Editor’s Note: If this is the first post you’ve read in this series, you may want to check out The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 1 for further explanation.

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12 Responses to “The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 3”

  1. Jason May 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    I read this but I’m not sure what you want in terms of response to it. But I didn’t want you to think no one read it. 🙂

    • katdish May 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

      Thanks, Jason. I guess sometimes there’s not much to say.

  2. Janice Maddox (@sierrawriter) May 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Very sad. I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist. I want to save them. Send them my way… : |

  3. James Williams May 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    I didn’t “get” the first post of this series, but it’s starting to click now (I can be slow).

    This was powerful, Kat. I think I’ll go back and start over now.

  4. Louise May 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    There’s always something to say when it’s incredibly well written and powerful — like this post.

    This is fabulous kat! You’ve painted an amazing picture of just how destructive we are when we don’t take care of the elephants.

  5. Annie K May 16, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    Great post Kat. Lots of elephants out there…

  6. floyd May 16, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    I think everyone has to deal with the “elephants,” it’s a struggle to round them up and kick them out, it’s a boat load of work. Sometimes it’s just easier to sit back and do nothing so as not to get it excited and deal with all the damage it creates on the way out. We were out to dinner the other night with some friends. The wife said something about my blog sarcastically and my wife kind of chimed in. Thanks for the reminder to deal with the elephants while there not all the way inside the door…

  7. Simply Darlene May 16, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    It’s a hard & suffocating place to be, alone in your own dreams.


  8. Helen May 16, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Very thought provoking story, Katdish.

  9. okiewife May 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I don’t know why it’s so hard to just SAY OUT LOUD what we really want. I can’t read anyone’s mind, so I should not expect them to read mine. Communication is a wonderful thing.

  10. Jeff May 17, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    This is my favorite post of the series so far, sad as it was.

    I have been guilty of buying Sarah gifts that I wanted her to have instead of the ones she really wanted. She’s never done that to me, though. For shame (on me).

  11. Hazel Moon June 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Not much communication going on here. They needed to let the other person what they would like for their anniversary. Actually it should have been something they both could enjoy. Maybe a cruise or even a night on the town. Maybe dinner and a show. Let’s save the painting and suit for birthday or Christmas!

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