23: A Measure of Love

23: A Measure of Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

A Measure of Love

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.

~Carrie Latet

It was the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and I had just finished wrapping the last gift for my family when Greg, my sixteen-year-old son, came into the bedroom after returning from shopping with his dad.

“Mom, you are not going to believe what Dad got you for Christmas!” he announced. “It’s a gift that shows how much he loves you.”

My mind immediately envisioned a diamond ring or gorgeous tennis bracelet. Without giving away my idea of a “love” gift, I responded with the question, “Do you think I got Dad enough for Christmas?”

After a few moments of thoughtful consideration, Greg answered, “Gosh, Mom, I don’t know. You might want to run down to the hardware store and buy him that tool chest he’s been wanting. It’s going to be hard to match what he got you though.”

With a teaser like that, I found it as difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve as I had when I was a kid. Visions of rings and bracelets danced in my head and I was the first one up in the morning. I eagerly gathered Greg, my other son Jeff, and my husband Randy for the ritual of opening gifts. As each one took his turn opening, we oohed and aahed over the selections each had made to show our love. I opted to open my gifts last, saving the moment when I would see the gift that would be the measure of my husband’s love.

Finally, it was my turn. The first gift I opened was a blender. Next, I opened a set of pots and pans. I took each one out of the box and carefully looked inside them, on the handles, and even in the packing for anything that resembled a piece of jewelry. My next gift was some cologne, my favorite kind. Still, I didn’t see any evidence of the spectacular gift for which I had been preparing myself to be surprised and overwhelmed. My last gift from my husband was a pretty gold nightgown and robe (in the wrong size).

Hiding my disappointment, I good-naturedly thanked Randy for the gifts and planted a big kiss on his lips. Mentally, I was trying to determine which gift in a sixteen-year-old’s mind had deserved the assessment that it showed how much he loved me. I decided probably the pots and pans!

We started to clean up the mountain of wrapping paper, bows and boxes. Randy came up behind me as I was stuffing them into the trash bag, put his arms around my waist and navigated me into the living room where we had another Christmas tree. My deflated spirits took wing, and I fully expected to find the ring or bracelet decorating one of the branches. Instead, he took me over to the tree and pointed behind it, where I saw a golf bag filled with shiny, new clubs.

My face fell as I tried to figure out how a new set of golf clubs for Randy was going to show how much he loved me. I already knew how much he loved golf, so he certainly didn’t need to convince me on that point.

My boys said in unison, “She doesn’t like them, Dad.”

Randy, so secure in his choice, calmly reassured the boys, “Don’t worry, guys. I knew she’d react like this. It’s just going to take some time for her to learn the game and enjoy it like I do!”

“They’re not yours?” I dumbly questioned. “They’re for me?” I was now becoming indignant. “I can’t believe that you think I would want to play golf alone!” Randy, an excellent golfer who consistently shoots in the 70s and always attracts a gallery of spectators even on the driving range, had often expressed his frustrations with women golfers who slowed the play down because they weren’t very good. I, a woman with no athletic ability, had only swung a club once or twice. With a giant stretch of the imagination, I would not even fit into the category of “not very good.”

Randy, undaunted by my less-than-enthusiastic reaction, said, “I thought this would be something we could do together. When the boys and I go out, we could have a foursome, and I know you’ll grow to love the game like we do.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” I asked incredulously. Things were starting to make sense. To take me on the golf course was a true measure of love to Randy. To allow me, a woman who was totally incompetent at golf, to play with him really was a sign of how much he loved me. And in the months that followed, his patience and perseverance in taking me to the driving range and enrolling me in lessons had proved that his gift was a gift of love and not a mere whimsy or desperate last-minute purchase for Christmas.

Because we are both teachers, we spend our summers at the beach in San Clemente, California, camping and now going to the golf course. With our sons grown and busy with their own lives, we have something that we can share as a couple that will keep us active and young. Randy still loves to play competitive golf and he is awesome, but he takes the time and patience to help and encourage me and keep me motivated to participate in what I have found to be a very challenging and alluring activity.

Greg, the sixteen-year-old who prepared me for the gift of love seven years ago on Christmas Eve, married recently. I gave him a little womanly advice on gift giving to take with him into his marriage. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Son, when you want to show Sarah how much you love her, go for the bracelet or the diamond ring in the first five years. Save the golf clubs for later when she can fully appreciate how much love that kind of a gift shows.”

~Judy Walker
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul

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