A friend traveled to Turkey and returned with a gift, a hand-painted bowl. The bowl inspired me to change my tablecloth from paisley to red to accent the bowl and then the colors of the bowl inspired me to buy clementines. Cherries came to mind as well except I don’t really like cherries. This morning, with light filling the bowl, I was able to reach for the fruit. As I ate the fruit and the air filled with the scent of oranges, I thought of gifts. My aunt told stories of post-Depression Virginia where her Christmas present was an orange and peppermint candies. Of late I’ve been on the cusp of worrying about all the Christmas cards not mailed, the presents not bought but as I held the fruit in my hand I let go of a bit of the guilt.
I’ve received lots of gifts this late autumn edging into winter. A shell from a young man as I walked along Revere Beach. He saw me stopping to collect and inspect and occasionally photograph, and so he came over to me and held out a speciman and simply said, “This one is beautiful.” I agreed. He kept standing there, shell in hand. “Is this for me?” I finally asked. He nodded. I took it. We separated and spoke no more.
A woman I’ve met on occasion, who can come across as rather brusque, she stopped to talk with me. As I helped her make a purchase, I admired a bracelet she wore. “It’s tiger agate,” she said, sliding it off of her wrist. I held it and then tried to give it back. She refused. “It is yours, “she snapped. “See? It does not match any of the other jewelry I wore. Clearly God made me wear this today for you. You are a tiger.” I must say, I’ve been called many things, but that may have been the first time I’ve been called a tiger.
Gifts come in many forms. I will treasure the bracelet but mostly because of the memory it will evoke. I will treasure the shell, and all the shells given. And, of course, the bowl and the oranges and other fruits it will hold, and the memories that rise with their fragrance.