Her most memorable Valentine's Day gift ever

By: Brennan Clarke Author: Canadian Living Credits:


Her most memorable Valentine's Day gift ever

By: Brennan Clarke
Never mind all the heartfelt greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry and candlelit dinners I've bestowed on my special someone over the years. Apparently, the most romantic Valentine's Day gift I've ever given her involved a scrub brush and a jug of Mr. Clean.

Give her what she really wants this Valentine's Day
It was the year my mother-in-law passed away, and my wife, who was back in Saskatchewan in February tending to family matters, mentioned that she didn't want to come home to a dirty bathroom.

I got it. I scrubbed the bog from top to bottom and threw some heart-shaped balloons on the counter to welcome her home.

Recently, she recalled this bathroom cleaning as one of the most thoughtful and considerate things I've ever done. Obviously I need to think about raising the bar.

When it comes to matters of the heart, I'm a work in progress. Like many men, my romantic successes are a lot like my good golf shots: If only I knew what I did right, I'd do it every time.

For, just like the game of golf, the game of love demands strict adherence to certain basic rules 
that, when ignored, can lead to catastrophic failure.

Be creative and thoughtful with your Valentine's Day gift
Guys are expected to buy some kind of gift on Valentine's Day. We know that much. This gift should preferably be something thoughtful, either decorative or decadent and, most important, of little or no practical use to anyone.

This is why flowers will always be the fail-safe. They look good and smell good for a few days, then they die. Basically, anything that she likes and that you consider completely pointless is a good bet: perfume, a spa treatment or maybe even a flowering plant to symbolize your undying love. (Note: Gifts containing any kind of motor – food processors, microwave ovens, hair dryers and weed whackers, for example – are generally considered unromantic.)

This rule applies no matter how expensive the gift. A $250 pair of diamond earrings beats a $400 lawn mower any day, even if you tie a yellow ribbon around it and claim yard work is something you do together.

Remember to make the sacrifice
The point is, a proper Valentine's Day surprise should be focused entirely on the wants and needs of your beloved. Your desires have nothing to do with it.

If you decide to buy her tickets to a concert, think Norah Jones, not Def Leppard. If you're staying home to watch a movie, never mind that Die Hard: With a Vengeance is on and you've only seen it once. Watch a chick flick with her (if that's what she likes) and praise Hugh Grant's acting skills, if you can dredge up the sincerity.

Your idea of the perfect romantic dinner may involve a steak house with an all-you-can-eat salad bar and several big-screen TVs, allowing you to watch the hockey game over her shoulder while simultaneously having an intimate conversation. But if she prefers a bistro with trendy waiters and artfully presented portions that empty your wallet without filling your belly, then you must make the sacrifice.

Or you can always head out to the nearest supermarket and load up on cleaning supplies. It worked for me.

Brennan Clarke, despite his inability to appreciate a good chick flick, has been happily married for more than 16 years.

This story was originally titled "What a Girl Wants" in the February 2013 issue.

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Her most memorable Valentine's Day gift ever