My husband turned 40 at the beginning of July. I wanted a Bacchanalian celebration, cake and lights and streamers and swarms of people, forgetting entirely that this milestone wasn’t about me. The realization would hit me eventually, before too much planning had occurred: he didn’t want a big to-do. Nor did he want, he insisted, anything in particular for his birthday – his wishlist was entirely blank.
I nodded, but had been planning a gift for him anyway – something unexpected and fun, but not so expensive or over-the-top that I couldn’t squeeze something else in should he suddenly decide (as he occasionally did) that there was something he wanted. Predictably, a few days before his birthday, he excitedly told me he’d figured out what I could get him for a present.
“For my fortieth birthday,” he said, with a slight dramatic pause, “I would like you to give away