Can’t Buy Me Love

I have been hanging on to an gift card that my in-laws sent me for Christmas. Thinking I would use it to buy my daughter a present for her birthday, I finally sat myself down and brought up the Amazon website. She wanted a specific chair, I knew, but it took me some experimenting with search terms to locate the correct one out of the many hundreds on offer. It happened that the credit card associated with my account had expired. After updating the credit card information, I entered the order, expecting to be prompted to enter the gift card for credit at some point. I soon realized I was supposed to have proactively selected the option to enter a gift card before I submitted the order, that the entire purchase had been charged to my now-valid credit card number, and that this payment method, once entered on behalf of a particular order, was unalterable. Sigh. When I laughingly relayed this to my daughter, she encouraged me to use the gift card to get something *I* wanted, as after all it had been a present to me. I returned to the website and cast about for items which would, either singly or in combination, fit at least roughly within bounds of the gift card amount. After several minutes of careful thought and desultory browsing, I had to give up. It was not that there was nothing I could use, but there really was nothing I wanted. I am grateful to be able to buy things for my loved ones so conveniently, but the gifts I desire are more experiential than material, and far from conveniently available. The smell of fresh homemade bread, the sound of my daughter’s laughter, the crunch of an apple, the star-filled vista of a clear dark night, the feel of my husband’s hand holding mine, the satisfaction of meaningful work; these are the things that give me joy, and none of them will be found for sale on any website.