The Perfect Gift

Last Monday started like most other Mondays.  Ambitions were high and I raced through my things to do list, never looking right or left but straight into the duties before me.  I wouldn’t say that I was particularly stressed, just focused.  I called the dry cleaners to clear up some confusion on my bill, put a brisket into the crock pot, looked up the recipes I wanted to bring to my daughter’s house for thanksgiving (jotting down the needed ingredients), stripped the beds and threw the sheets into the washer from our weekend guests, made an appointment with my dentist, drove to the bank, post office and grocery, went to two different places to buy Amaryllis bulbs, saving $3.00 a bulb for the extra effort, and raced home to meet the cable guy.  I retrieved as many plastic grocery bags as I could possibly hold from the back seat of my car, twisting the handles around both hands before walking up the steps to my porch.

There on the mat below the front door, was a present, an act of grace, a small gesture from an unknown someone who caused me to take a detour from the rush and clutter of my morning.  The gift was a rock, a beautiful, honey colored rock with warm marbled markings.  It was shaped like a pyramid, smooth, cool to touch and fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.  I paused.

There is nothing like an anonymous gift.  I recalled the time when I discovered one long stem red rose on the steering wheel of my car on Valentines day.   I went down all kinds of crazy rabbit trails trying to figure out who the giver was, sifting through quite a number of possibilities.  Then I thought of the Secret Santa exchange that we used to do at the office.  I was always pretty good guessing who gave what to whom.  Most of my secret gifts have come on specific holidays.  It’s exponentially better to receive an anonymous gift on an ordinary day.  I can testify that flowers sent for no special reason smell sweeter than ones sent for an anniversary (though I love those too, keep them coming).

Forgetting the groceries which were still in their bags waiting to be put away and stacked up across my kitchen counter, I walked outside to sit on my porch swing, cradling my new treasure.  I contemplated the meaning of the rock and which person in my life could have left it when Amelia walked by.  Amelia, the lovely precocious 7-year-old who lives a few doors down on my Mayberry-like Street in Serenbe.

“Amelia,”  I said.  “Do you know who may have left this rock on my porch?”

“I think it was Tristin,”  she answered.  “We got one too.  He told me he was going to give gifts of nature to people today.”

So it was Tristin.  I know who Tristin is.  I see him playing with the other kids on Selborne lane and I know which house he lives in.  We exchange friendly good mornings now and then but never much more than that.  I think my grandchildren play with him when they come to visit me.  I can’t imagine why this charming little boy would give me one of his treasures, but in doing so, he gave me a little bit of his heart.  I soon discovered that almost everyone on the block received a similar gift from said mystery person.  Was anyone else touched by this unexpected, extravagant, act of kindness?  I envision Tristin carefully placing his gifts on each porch while imagining our delightful response.  He surely didn’t expect a thank-you, his only joy being the act of giving itself.

It’s been a week now, since I found that special rock on my stoop.  We put the Christmas tree up yesterday, something we always do the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We planted the Amaryllis bulbs and they are pushing upwards.  We arranged all the Santas on their shelf and put the Christmas music on.  I’m somewhat concerned that I am just now getting to the point of pondering presents for persons of prominence.  (Well, not quite yet, I’m blogging first).  With my heels dug in, I ask myself, “what are you waiting for?”

What is the reason for my procrastination?  Is it because I hate the idea of going to the mall or spending unproductive hours searching for on-line bargains, or is it because I have bought into the idea that I can surprise my loved ones with exactly what they never knew they wanted and can find it on sale?  I’d really like to do it differently this year, give something that means something.  I’m trying to figure out, without putting rocks in all their stockings, how to pass on to each person in my family something of the truth behind every good gift.  I want a gift that whispers mystery, like the simple gift of love coming from a child.

What happens on girl trips?



Somewhere, towards the end of an unusually long, cold, patience-busting winter, there comes a summons.  It can take the form of a text, e-mail or phone call and almost always contains the word beach.  Hearts respond and flap like the wings of migratory birds, all caution to the wind.  The chosen few force themselves to forget their many responsibilities and actually entertain the thought that their families could actually function without them for a week, and they go forth.

They travel alone or in pairs, by plane or automobile and arrive at random times.  They exchange squeals and hugs of salutation again and again as each one arrives. They give each other long adoring looks. There is genuine happiness in being together.  They pick up old conversations, for they instinctively know that no conversation is ever really over. They can carry on multiple conversations, talking at the same time on various subjects and they somehow, magically understand each other.

There is suddenly a new-found freedom to eat what you want, shop for glitzy shoes, stay up late, sleep in, dance like a teenager, share stories, books, recipes, opinions.  Everyone becomes an authority on everything and it is okay.  There are serious discussions and light-hearted talk, tears and belly laughter.  Empathy and hope are lavishly distributed.

On a girls trip nothing ever gets done.  Ain’t that grand?