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day 4: 'tis a gift

February 5, 2011

I had to give a big presentation in another city on Day 4.  It was raining.  I had a laptop case, a huge display board, a coat, a basket full of papers and pencils, and a mammoth red purse to carry with me from the downtown parking garage into the downtown building where I was to present.

Did I mention it was raining?

Can you picture me, without a hand to carry an umbrella, staggering off-kilter, weighed down by all of my junk, rushing through the rain to my presentation?

Enter gift 1: kind attorney, rushing in his perfect suit to court, who stopped to help me carry my bags and opened the door for me.

Arriving at my presentation, I learned that the child of one of my co-presenters had become very ill that morning.  As she was feeling better, she had accompanied her mother and would be sitting in the audience.  O is in her twenties and has Down’s Syndrome and is walking, talking, joy personified.  Even with a laundry list of medical complications, even with a host of maladies that make her life far more difficult than it should be, she just shines.

Enter gift 2: beaming O, leaning down to high-five me for luck before our presentation.

Presentation completed, questions answered, evaluations scribbled, stuff carried back to car, and I am ready to offer my Day 4 gift.  We’ve ordered too many boxed lunches for our presentation, so I decide to take them by the Durham Rescue Mission on my way back home.  I struggle with whether or not this qualifies as a gift by my self-created “a gift a day” standards.  I call my moral touchstone, my husband.

“I didn’t actually buy these lunches myself,” I say, “and they aren’t meaningful to me… so does it count?”

He takes my inquiry seriously, one of the five thousand reasons I love him.  “Well, your time is meaningful to you.  Wouldn’t you rather be home than driving in the rain on a Friday night to donate the lunches?”


Exiting the parking garage, I shuffle around for my wallet to pay the attendant.  When I ask him a cursory, “How are you?” he looks up from his register, blue eyes twinkling.

Enter gift 3: elderly man, gold cross around his neck, saying, “You know?  The only way people can really be happy is to accept their circumstances.  I say that serenity prayer every day.  I ask God to help me accept the things I cannot change.  That way, I am always happy.”  Big smile.

I am not making this up, by the way.  And while I am by no means a crier, his back-lit smile, his expansive joy literally brought tears to my eyes.

So, I dropped off the lunches at the Durham Rescue Mission, where they were received by a bustling, hairnetted woman.  She told me the sandwiches would be eaten right away, and that the kids would enjoy the cookies.  This made me happy.

I finally arrived home, buckets of rain later, to see a van parked in front of my house and a man on my front porch.  I rolled down the window to see it was one of my husband’s colleagues.

“I called ahead but no one picked up,” he said, and I noticed he held something yellow in his hand.

Enter gift 4: Friday night, pouring rain, friend waiting on our front porch.  “I wanted to leave this for your son,” he says, and I realize he’s holding a gold and black Pittsburgh Steelers towel.  My four year old has recently decided that he, like my husband’s friend, is a huge Steelers fan.  “I wanted him to have it before the Superbowl.”

When I enter my house to share this gift with my son, I see these on the kitchen table:

From aforementioned husband.  For me.  Just because.  Did I mention I am not a crier?

I began this blog as part writing exercise and part spiritual practice.  I’ve only been at it four days, of course, but if you ask me today?  I feel changed.  Today my cynicism is curbed, and I’m brimming with gratitude.

In other words, this was a good day.

Thanks for showing up.  See you tomorrow.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    February 5, 2011 11:06 am

    Steve gets bonus points from me! How sweet!

  2. Melissa Hawley permalink
    February 5, 2011 1:07 pm

    What a fabulous day! You brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Meg permalink
    February 5, 2011 2:50 pm

    This was so poignant, Anne, made me want to cry, too! Kudos to you for finding the joy that can hide in the everyday details. (and of course Chip found joy in a new opportunity to give Stevie a hard time.)

  4. Chip permalink
    February 6, 2011 1:38 pm

    Did I mention that I an not a crier either? That is, until I saw Stevie’s manhood go straight out the door. Flowers for no reason less than two weeks before Valentine’s Day? Seriously? Give it a rest Don Juan.

    • February 6, 2011 2:07 pm

      was it two weeks before valentine’s day? sure. was it a unprovoked romantic gesture? you bet. did i appreciate it? yes indeedy (by the way, finn made you a styrofoam robot — it is in the mail).

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