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A Late Night Valentines Day Surprise

Updated on February 11, 2022
Chuck profile image

Chuck enjoys celebrating holidays with his family. This has led to an interest in researching & writing about holidays & their traditions.

It is Difficult to Surprise My Wife With a Gift

Trying to decide on a gift for my wife on Valentine's Day, or any other occasion for that matter, has always been a problem for me.

Oh, there is no problem with deciding what to give her as she has always been very good about letting me know exactly what she wants and even offering to help me shop for it. Cost is usually not a problem since all of our finances are in a joint account (the children have separate accounts, but my wife and I have to think in terms of the entire household) so each of us is well aware of how much is available for extras for ourselves.

No, the problem is the element of surprise which is almost always lacking in my gifts for her as she usually knows what is in the package before she opens it.

However, this year her gift was a surprise for both of us. In fact my wife was so surprised and happy with the gift that she hardly slept that night.

A Shotgun Wedding and a Pile of Bills

We have been married for four years and despite it being a second marriage for both of us, our actual marriage was one of those hastily put together affairs. Given the circumstances surrounding it, it could almost be referred to as a shotgun marriage .

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, we didn't have to get married for that reason and I didn't have an angry father-in-law pointing a shotgun at me in order to motivate me to say I do .

No, the threat came from my Uncle Sam (the old guy with the white beard whose photo used to adorn Army recruiting posters) and his army of flack jacketed Border Patrol agents armed wielding automatic weapons.

You see my wife and her two children came to the U.S. from Russia on what is known as a fiancée visa which meant that we ether we got married within 45 days of her arrival in the U.S. or it was back to Russia for her and her children.

We were in love and wanted to get married but first I had to wait for bureaucrats at Homeland Security and the State Department to process and approve the paperwork necessary to allow her to join me in the U.S. Of course once she was approved for entry into the U.S. the same slow moving mandarins insisted that we marry ASAP or else!

Once things started moving, what had been a relatively inexpensive courtship suddenly became expensive as I scrambled to make travel and moving arrangements while my bank account dwindled amidst the flood of new expenses. Adding to the financial drain was the fact that Homeland Security was behind in processing green card applications causing us to wait months until my wife was given permission to work.

Our wedding was memorable for its haste and frugality. Neither of us had family in Tucson and there was no time to organize and plan any type of formal wedding.

So one day, in midweek, finding my afternoon free at work and a judge available at the courthouse near us, I called my wife and told her I was on my way to pick her up to go and get married. In addition to not being able to work, the lack of a green card also meant no driver's license so my wife had nothing better to do than get married that afternoon anyway.

Leaving work I gathered up three of our children and my wife and headed for the Oro Valley Courthouse. After filling out the paper work and paying the $50 fee we were ushered into the judge's chambers and, three minutes later we were legally man and wife.

However, it took another pile of paperwork and payment of a fee totaling almost $1,500 before Uncle Sam gave us his wedding present in the form of two year temporary residence visas for my new wife and her two children. In lieu of an engagement or wedding ring my new wife received extended visas for herself and her two children.

Lunch With Some Co-Workers Start Us on a Quest for a Wedding Ring

Over the years, whenever the subject of rings for my wife and I have come up we have always dismissed it saying that orthodontics, tuition, food, etc. for the children were more important.

Thus, when the subject of wedding rings some how came up while having Saturday lunch with some co-workers and their spouses a week before Valentine's Day I explained away my, and my wife's lack of wedding rings, with the usual we decided to forgo rings for now, choosing instead to feed the kids comment which has always been good for a laugh. However, one of my co-workers mentioned that she and her husband were going to the huge annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show that weekend with the intention of finding a replacement for the engagement ring that she had lost.

I considered this but we had already made other plans for the weekend and I wasn't sure we could fit in a trip to the show. On Saturday afternoon my wife and I joined some of my co-workers for a small get together with my supervisor who had just retired. It was the first time my wife had met my co-workers, some of whom had been at lunch with me earlier in the week. Again, the topic of wedding rings came up and the Gem Show was again suggested - this time to my wife as well. On our way home that evening we decided to visit the show the next morning.

While my wife browsed among booths displaying mostly silver jewelry, I separated from her and explored another wing where I found gold, which is what my wife prefers in jewelry. Retrieving her, we explored the main aisle for a while before ducking into a small side aisle that was less crowded.

At a small booth on that aisle my wife spotted a nice diamond ring in a gold setting. She liked it and, in a mall jewelry store it would have been in the price range that we eventually planned to pay. Seeing her interest in the ring the proprietor attempted to strike up a conversation and indicated that the already low $175 price was negotiable. He also cleverly steered her attention to a very expensive looking ring nearby.

This other ring was something to get excited about but was obviously way out of our price range. I had come prepared to pay a hundred dollars or so if we found a very good deal on a ring but, realistically, had looked upon this trip as a scouting expedition for next year.

However, the ring was beautiful and, at almost 1/10th the price that would be charged in a regular jewelry store, it was too good to pass up. January had been a good month with Google AdSense for me and that money would be coming in a week or two. Instead of setting it aside, as planned, for a new laptop I decided it could cover the difference between the cost of this ring and what I was previously prepared to pay.

This dealer was a wholesale dealer and had done very well with his large sales during the week. He was now trying to liquidate his remaining stock by offering it at retail as well. We purchased the ring and, on the way home dropped it off at a jewelry store to have it sized to fit my wife's finger. On display, under glass were some rings that were similar to ours and their price, on sale, was about seven times what we had just paid.

I Surprise My Wife

I was surprised by finally being able to surprise my wife with a gift even though she was with me when I brought it. But there was more to come as the jeweler promised to have the ring ready to fit on her finger by Valentine's Day. Then called and left a message, which I got but my wife didn't, the day before Valentine's Day saying it was ready for pick up. I picked up the ring on my way home from work and left it on her pillow with a card when I went to bed.

Arriving home from work at her usual time that night she was surprised again seeing the gift waiting for her some 30 minutes before the clock struck midnight and officially ushered in Valentine's Day. The next morning she excitedly claimed that the happiness and excitement she had felt upon finding the ring on her pillow had kept her awake most of the night.

My Valentine's Day Surprise

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Chuck Nugent


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