real life

'I've been married to my husband for 13 years. He almost never gets me a birthday gift.'

As I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, I looked around and realised I couldn’t think of a single thing to wish for. My heart was full.

I was spending the day with all my loved ones and it was the first birthday spent with my new boyfriend. 

I turned to him as he described the gift he had planned for me. 

While you're here, watch Mia discuss the five love languages and how her version of expressing love is quite the opposite of her husband’s. Post continues after video.


Video via MPlus.

A couples horse ride along the beach at sunset. It was perfect. He was perfect.

I imagined us riding together, tasting the fresh salt air on our lips, looking towards the romantic pink sky on the horizon. I could actually hear Daryl Braithwaite “Horses” playing in my head. That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darling...

Unfortunately, darling, that’s not the way it was gonna be. Because 13 years later, although that wonderful boyfriend is now my wonderful husband, I’ve still never been on a horseback ride at sunset.

It was never officially booked in and I suppose life and the arrival of our four children got in the way! 

I’d like to say it was the first and only imaginary gift I've received from my husband, but sadly, it was not.

Over the years, I've listened to women complain about receiving some truly terrible gifts from their partners. 

Vacuum cleaners, horrendous silver necklaces to add to their exclusively gold jewellery collection, cleaning products and ornaments.  

I would simply chuckle and think, "I can top that! I’ve been given the gift of an idea! The gift of Hope! One year, I received an imaginary hot-air balloon ride!! Ah, the memories!"

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Believe it or not, I’m actually not a materialistic person. I don’t need much. I'm thrilled with a box of chocolates, a thoughtful message written on a card. A home cooked meal. Flowers. A day to myself.  

It truly is the thought that counts. Their time.

A moment given to say, "hey, I see you. I appreciate you."

I had tried it all over the years. Giving incredibly obvious hints. Lists. 

The old passive aggressive "don’t worry about getting me anything." Which led to well… Nothing.

Some years, I would give up and just buy my own gift. Nothing quite like being handed the gift you selected for yourself still in the mailed packaging bag it arrived in. 

I just couldn’t figure out why. Because in every other aspect of our lives, my husband is everything. He is kind and hardworking, funny and affectionate. He is a brilliant father. He doesn’t have a cruel bone in his body.

Yet with life’s every celebration, he offers the gift of disappointment.

One day I finally solved the mystery of why, uttered in a single phrase.

It was his birthday. I bounced into the room carrying his breakfast in bed, singing "happy birthday" with our children. I handed him his carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped gift and asked, "what would you like to do today? Your choice! Anything you want!"

He looked over at me, a bemused smile dancing in the corners of his mouth. "I’m not fussed really, it’s just another day."

It’s just another day.

I felt my heart deflate as I stared at the balloons I had scattered around the room.

It was not just another day. This day marked the day he entered the world. It certainly wasn’t "just another day" all those years ago when his poor mother endured a painful breech birth to welcome him ass first into this world!

If it wasn’t for this day, we would never have met. We wouldn’t have fallen in love. I’d be somewhere else entirely. Our four incredible children would not exist. 

It’s a day that celebrates him and all that he brings to the world. I simply cannot accept that birthdays or anniversaries or any of these celebrations are "just another day."

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Because in life there are simply too many days that are "just another day."

Listen to Cancelled's episode on Love Actually. Hosted by Clare and Jessie Stephens. Post continues after podcast.


Days filled with the endless cries of a newborn, the days where you're not even sure what day it actually is. 

Days of endless commutes to work.

Groundhog days of packing school lunches and finding lost shoes. 

Days of bedtime routines and grocery shops.

Tantrums and slammed doors. 

Days of the same song played on repeat.

Days where you wonder what your brain was actually filled with before the constant to do lists. 

We’ve lived through a pandemic. Two years of trying to make it through “just another day.” Then you are given the gift of the other days.

Those days that create memories, that give you your life stories. 

The days that bring planning and a restless impatience of future joy.

The days of wishes made and candles blown. 

The days keys are handed over, and homes are made. 

The days of first kisses and butterflies. 

The days vows are made, and bouquets are thrown. 

The days graduation hats are thrown to the sky. 

The day you meet your child for the very first time. 

The other days that we gather to remember people and celebrate all the days you were lucky enough to have them for. 

So if I have a reason, any reason for a day to not just be another day… You can damn well bet I’m gonna celebrate.  

And yes, dear husband, I want a present.

Feature Image: Getty.

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