I'm not the kind of grrrl who requires expensive gifts. You might not guess this about me and that is OK. As much as I might drool over $1500 shoes or a purse that could sell on eBay and put my child through college, it truly is the intention and not the price tag or name brand that speaks to me most.
That care, tucked into a beautifully tied bow or lovingly baked tin of muffins or even in a note, stays with me long after the holidays or gift is gone. It's cliche,yes. It is also true.
One of my favorite gifts arrived when the holidays and divorce court dates collided. I was exhausted, depleted and overwhelmed by how much shopping and centering and magic I would have to do to make a Christmas for my son. In the middle of it, I got a card in the mail from my friend Ann. She lives in the neighborhood, but the fact that it came in the post said something special. Inside was a Starbucks gift card with the note, "Use this when you need a break or a treat for yourself. All my love..." Nothing fancy, no long paragraphs of inspiration and anecdotes. But all the understanding was there. And on the day I powered through all my shopping in a few intense hours, I stopped for a coffee and the treat of some time alone in a big chair with a latte to decide how I would thrive in the days ahead rather than continue to (barely) survive. That may have come at some point anyway, but I have Ann to thank for prompting me, for the reminder that I deserved to sit down, take stock, slowly slip.
I still have that card with Ann's note tacked next to my desk. More than once in the two years since she sent it, reading it has inspired me to stop what I am frantically doing, step away from my life for a while, be still and re-set.
Other grrrlfriends have shared gifts that have held the same sweet intentions -- mixed CDs, worn copies of books they've read and insist I also read, text messages that say "I <3 you so much!", taking the time in the craziness of the season to finally meet for brunch, an old photo from high school, a rock in the shape of a heart. None of these things requires a great deal of logistics, time or money. All of them have been a bit of bliss in the indulgence and mania we've come to expect from the holidays.
Not all of this season is this sentimental. I don't expect that. Maybe, though, that's why these little gestures are such wonderful and welcome surprises. I'm as guilty as the next person for whipping out my debit card to celebrate a friendship at Christmas (and many other times during the year). Even just remembering all those notes and texts and songs emailed in the wee hours when the house is over-run with wrapping paper and messy kitchen counter tops makes me want to stash my cash away and write out a few meaningful messages of my own.
It's not revolutionary. It may not change anyone's world. It is simple. Why is it that, as soon as the bell ringers are out and Black Friday horns sound, we abandon simplicity so vehemently? Especially when something simple could be the sigh and smile we all really want when we are spending too much on everything or anything at all just to fulfill obligations?
So, tonight's intention is to ignore the to-do list for a while longer, close the door on my room cluttered with shopping bags, inhale all of that loveliness my women-friends have passed on to me in previous years and exhale a bit of it back in their direction.