Save Your Love for People

By Nelle Myrica Donaldson

Recently, my husband and I attended a wine tasting (something that couples sometimes do and parents rarely do). This tasting, at the home of friends, was conceived of as an opportunity for the guests to help the hosts select which bottles to serve at their wedding. It amounted to a nice opportunity to gather, drink more than usual, and center the conversation around bottles of wine as we consumed them. I brought the chocolate cupcakes. (I have recently learned how to make foolproof chocolate cupcakes and yes, I will also share this knowledge with my children, and anyone else who wants to know).

With little tasting wheels to help us describe the wine in suitable terms, wine-centric conversation took us many places that evening, but the take-home message showed itself when my enthusiastic approval of a Cabernet Sauvignon — something like: I love big, chewy reds! — was met with the playful reprimand: “Save your love for people.”

Our host quickly dismissed his remark, saying that it was just something his mother had often said to him when he was growing up. (If he expressed love for a game, a cereal, a movie, etc., with that short sentence she would remind him, that’s not what love means). There was a moment of resonance in the group. I thought, wow, go Carl’s mom!

Still, what strikes me about the “save your love” rule is that it reaches far past the issue of correct communication and points to the issue of compassion: We should always value human relationships over material objects.

Among other things, parents inevitably find linguistic nagging points. My mother has always been disproportionately concerned with the use of nominative and objective personal pronouns; as in, “Jon and I [not Jon and me] went to the store. Grandma gave him and me [not he and I] each four quarters to spend.” Personally, I will probably be more of a stickler with regard to semantics. (My excuse? I believe our tools for communication are among the most valuable we possess and that they should continually be honed for accuracy). Still, what strikes me about the “save your love” rule is that it reaches far past the issue of correct communication and points to the issue of compassion: We should always value human relationships over material objects.

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