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day 31: small wonders

March 4, 2011

As I harriedly entered the second trimester of my “a gift a day” project, I hummed my mantra under my breath:  “Think small, think small, think small.”

“Small” aptly describes the gray Florence Eiseman jumper with cherry appliques I found at Goodwill a few weeks ago (skeptical of Goodwill shopping?  a few still-with-tags Gymboree shirts priced at two dollars each will make you a believer).  Pulling this little beauty out of my closet to give to a friend’s daughter, I exhaled a sigh of relief.  I’d found my gift for the day before seven a.m.  Her little fashionista would love the jumper’s circle skirt and bright red cherries.  Time to celebrate with a hemp protein smoothie.

After a few hours of work, I met said friend at my favorite local coffee shop, Bean Traders, to give her the dress (of course, I forgot to take a picture).

Incidentally, if you have never tried Bean Traders’ roasted-on-site coffee, you are missing out.  These people know what they are doing.

As you might guess, my friend loved the dress.  She said her daughter would love the dress.  We drank our Valencia Orange coffee and talked about an event she was to attend that night to benefit Urban Ministries of Durham, an organization providing shelter and supportive services to those in need.

In the middle of this conversation, I realized that I hadn’t yet given Day 31’s gift.  While the dress was appreciated and lovely, it wasn’t valuable to me.  If I evaluated my gift by my own standards — even thinking small — it didn’t meet the “meaningful” requirement.  Perhaps it also goes without saying that her daughter has a lot of pretty dresses already.

Luckily, my friend had provided me with a readily available alternative.  Just last Sunday, our church’s order of service listed a volunteer opportunity at Urban Ministries, working at an upcoming community fair, so after leaving Bean Traders I immediately contacted the organizer and put my name in to serve.

What I love about this organization, which has been serving the community since 1983, is that it identifies itself as a “welcoming, caring and compassionate environment that affirms the dignity of our guests, volunteers and staff.”  I’ve heard about the good work of Urban Durham Ministries for years, thinking, “I should really look into volunteering there,” but it took today’s encounter to get me to ante up my time.  Go figure.

Thanks for the shove, Little Gray Jumper with the Red Cherry Appliques.

Speaking of thanks, I have to mention the effusive, impeccable thank you note I received from my niece T.G. While I am not one to hang on to things, I need to find a place of honor in my house for this precious letter.  Her handwriting alone is frame-worthy, and her words are just as perfect.  How lucky I am.

I hope your day affirms your dignity and is appliqued with bright red cherries.  Thanks, once more, for showing up.

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