Monday, November 26, 2012

The Write Time to Give (re-post from Dec/11)

Have you ever bought a gift for someone and been unable to part with it? This year it was a leather purse. I have had the affliction for a number of years−a great number. Of course, I would always buy replacement gifts for my friends. At least, I hope I did. Yes, I am sure I did.

I first noticed this eccentric glitch when I purchased an address book for a long-time friend. The moment I saw the book, I thought of her. Without question, I had to buy it. It was beautifully illustrated and had Friendship quotes throughout. I leafed through the book, stroked the cover, wrote down some of the quotes, and then tucked it in my desk drawer. No, I could not let it go.

 Now on the positive side, each time I looked at the book I thought of my friend. However, I did feel a slight tug of guilt. Well, it was not as if I actually used the book. I did not write phone numbers or addresses in it. I did look through it often though.

 After several years, I came clean. We met for lunch and I had the book wrapped in tissue inside a gift bag. It was not an occasion: it was time to part with the book.

 I explained what happened. I never worry about my friends thinking I am weird. If they have not figured that out by the time we establish a close relationship, then ...yes, I am sure they have figured it out.

 Anyway, she was very good-natured about my misgivings and thanked me, saying she had been meaning to buy an address book. There, I felt better. I still think of the book and remember some of the quotations. They remind me of the childhood friendship we shared.

 Then, of course, there was the year I bought the snow globe− the one with the mahogany base. Each year that I take it from the decoration bin and unwrap it, I think of the friend I purchased it for. We have not seen each other in over ten years. And you see, I have never forgotten her. The globe is special to me. I place it on my dresser. It is there for me to look at each morning and each night throughout the winter season. Yes, I think of her often. I am certain she would have liked the snow globe.

 Ah, I can’t help remembering the Christmas book. It was too long ago for me to recall where I bought it or the circumstances surrounding the purchase. It was an appealing combination of stories and recipes. A red satin ribbon bookmark attached to the spine. I knew she would appreciate the quality and content. But, I just couldn’t give it to her.

 Each year I opened the book and reverently turned the pages, thinking of my friend and remembering all the good times we shared over the years. Our friendship was synonymous with this glossy covered book, the jacket still in pristine condition. Yes, I took special care of this book; the way one would a cherished friendship.
She visited one day and leafed through the book herself. Do you like it, I asked. It’s beautiful, she replied. I knew you would like it, I sighed. I bought it for you years ago. Her snorting laugh was about what I expected. My closest friends knew.

 Last year as I was packing away the Christmas decorations, I sat on the floor with my treasured book, slowly turning the pages, admiring the font, the stories, remembering the recipes, and I decided. It was time. I wrapped it in tissue and delivered it to her. I could not wait until the beginning of the next Christmas season. No, I had to give it to her then. She could put it away and have it for next year. I had to give it to her right away.

 This year when I took out my Christmas books, I missed the ritual of sitting cross-legged on the floor re-visiting the pages of my friend’s edition, but knew I had done the right thing. I hope that she enjoys the book as much as I did over the years.
The leather purse I bought this Christmas will remind me of the intended recipient forever. I don’t think a purse is something I would gift after I have used it, but just the same I will remember this person each time I slide open the zipper or catch my keys on the exquisite lining. Each time someone compliments the stylish handbag I will think of her.

Who could ask for a better friend?

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