Monday, December 12, 2011

Ribbons and Bows

My holiday gift to each of you……….

YOU are my present this holiday season. Sure, you don’t come with gold foil or those cute little sticky bows, but I honestly believe that you are in my life for a reason, that you are here to bring me something I would find myself lacking without. Whether you are here to help me learn to laugh, to love, to lighten up or whether you are here to help me learn, you each come to me with your own unique contribution. I am the puzzle, and you are the pieces that complete that puzzle.

Even those of you I may only meet once in passing, and who will never truly know me, contribute much that you cannot imagine. I am thinking now of that day when I was a young mother of four. It was one of THOSE days. If you’re a parent here, you know what I mean. It was one of those days where everyone was in a crabby mood at the very same time. We were in a public place and, with too little sleep, too much stress, and never the right amount of support, I had been pushed to my absolute limit. I looked at my four bawling beauties and shouted in my absolute most controlled shout, “I am just angry at everybody right now, angry at everybody!” An elderly man we were passing looked at me solemnly and said simply, “That is so unfortunate. That’s really just so sad.” My anger dissipated immediately. I have never since been able to feel such anger or frustration without thinking what a colossal waste of living, what a waste of relationship.

Some of you know me well and, still, contribute in ways you cannot imagine. I am thinking now of a brainstorming session when this at-home mom of twenty years decided to re-enter the world of work. “You like books. Maybe you will work in a bookstore.” Simple enough and well intentioned, but it brought me to this. My education was not for nothing. I went to school not because I was supposed to, but because I wanted to. I pursued my goal because I loved the material. I loved learning about people, about why we do what we do, why we are who we are, how we can be better at being a better us. I want to use that, to pass it on. I want to use, actually ALL of my education, not just the academic.

I want to use, especially, the sales training tip that one of you shared with me, the notion that we treat each person we meet as if she has an invisible sign pinned to her shirt that says, “Make me feel important.” Do you know how many of you, whether you realize it or not, treat ME as if I have that sign pinned to MY shirt? I thank you for that. I am thinking now, especially, of an off the cuff comment by one of you that made an aging mother of four feel absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out. I am thinking of one of you who shared what our friendship had meant earlier in life, shared that I made a difference, shared that you are encouraged by my words. I am thinking of a lovely lavender and paisley writing journal, an end of term gift, and the words inscribed therein. I am thinking of a time when I questioned whether and why I should even bother continuing with this writing business at all and one of you offered up a definitive yes and added, “Because you’re damn good at it!” Strong words for a weak reserve. You, indeed, made me feel important.

I may not know what your contribution is until after you leave my life, either literally or figuratively. That’s okay. I am enjoying the journey. I am enjoying the process of putting that puzzle together, even when those pieces may not seem to fit, even when they may seem to belong to a different puzzle altogether. I am wondering, for example, about one who confuses my head, who reddens my face and quickens my pulse. I am wondering about one who hurts my heart, who hurts it in ways I cannot write. I am wondering about one who is me at another point in my life. I am wondering about one, well, I am just wondering about that one.

So, while the aisles are packed with last-minute shoppers and the rest of creation eagerly awaits ribbon-tearing time, I am snuggled up in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a really good book. I thank you for allowing me to open my gift early. It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful and so, so perfect. How did you know?

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