A package arrived in our mailbox this week. The box had been sent by a friend I had met in Massena a number of years ago.
Our friendship has grown over that time. This extraordinary woman moved a few years ago to the southern part of New York state. Our friendship now is shared through handwritten notes and letters, which I treasure.
There had been no plans made to exchange gifts, so the arrival of this package was a complete surprise. When I opened the box, I was overwhelmed. The note included touched my heart, and the gift brought tears of gratitude.
It will be easy today to share what was the best part of my day — a gift sent from a friend, a gift selected with the heart of kindness and caring. The note told me my friend was sure my “coffee collection doesn’t contain a slice of an African coffee tree!”
She was so right. I have coffees from around the world (thanks to our traveling sons), coffee spoons, sleeves and coffee cups. I even have a beautiful coffee bean bracelet from Columbia, but not one slice of an African coffee tree.
My friend knows my enjoyment of coffee and anything coffee related. She explained that in Africa “in the spirit of not wasting anything, when a [coffee] bush or tree is no longer productive, they use the wood in some other way.” My friend described this beautiful slice of wood as a cheese board.
The board shows every amazing knot and marking of the cross-cut section from the tree. I had just cleaned our coffee table before the mail arrived.
Our Advent wreath, blown glass nativity, snow globes and candles had just been put away. The table was literally bare and waiting for the placement of a treasured gift from a friend.
The polished slice of a coffee tree now holds a place of honor in our home. It has been placed on our coffee table with a candle on it.
As I look at it, I will think of my most thoughtful friend, of a gift shared given from the heart. And I will think of those in Africa who made a most beautiful item from a coffee tree, which no longer produces the brew I enjoy. As those in Africa centered on not being wasteful, they made sure the tree continued producing with the most beautiful gift carved and polished from the trunk of a tree.
How grateful I am today for a friendship across the miles. And I am grateful for the most caring friends who share gifts that mean so much. How fortunate I am to have so many beautiful people in my life.
We usually don’t shop on New Year’s Day. But last Wednesday, we needed to make a trip to Massena.
There were internet issues to deal with at the Verizon store. I called ahead to make sure the store was even open. Fortunately it was open, and a lovely young woman corrected the problem and we had internet service once again.
I was honestly surprised the store would be open on Jan. 1. To me, New Year’s Day would be a holiday, a day for celebrating the new year and watching football games.
We stopped at another store to purchase a birthday balloon for a friend who was celebrating that day. The store was open as well, but there was a difference.
The Clockman and I were the only two individuals (besides store clerks) in the entire store. And the store was quiet — there was no music whatsoever playing.
Local stores anticipated the Christmas season last summer with decorations and displays for the then-upcoming celebration, which was months away. There has been Christmas music playing (which I love to hear) for months as well. But on Jan. 1, the empty store played no music at all.
Perhaps we could anticipate spring with the same enthusiasm as we did Christmas. We could have flower wreaths and garden seeds for planting. (We did see a seed display in one store, and there were some items on display for Valentine’s Day. But for the most part, stores were empty!)
Certainly there could be music that would make our day so much better. I immediately thought of Peggy Lee’s “Yes, It’s a Good Day!” For those who don’t remember Peggy Lee, perhaps singer Andy Grammer’s “Good to be Alive” would work.
Others have mentioned the empty shelves and barren appearance in stores. My sister in California told me when we visited that she and her husband had been shopping and noticed the lack of music and empty stores.
Certainly there must be celebratory songs and joyous displays that shoppers could enjoy following Christmas. As the snow falls, let’s begin a countdown to spring!
Online there is a Countdown to Spring, which I learned this week is on March 19. Monday as I wrote this column, the countdown was 73 days, 9 hours and 36 minutes.
Wouldn’t it be terrific to have a countdown to spring on the front page of the Courier Observer similar to the Days until Christmas? I certainly think so!
It is always a joy to hear comments from loyal column readers. I would love to visit with each of you over coffee on a Wednesday morning. It is wonderful to hear your comments in the aisles of local stores and through email sharing.
Last week, a number of you mentioned our granddaughter’s call to share “the best part of your day.” I had individuals tell me they were going to attempt doing that this week. And that brought me great joy. One woman, though, said she was glad to read that our family ate together around a table with no phones nearby. I was honestly surprised to hear that. Growing up we always ate together around the table with a full setting of dishes and silverware put out.
I am pleased to say our family eats together around the table. What a joy it is to be with our family and sit around the table.
Our son and daughter-in-law have a wonderful dining room table that seats perhaps 16 to 20. Family and extended family have joined together for meals.
What a joy it always is to visit and share around the table over a delicious meal prepared by loving hands. Dinner hour can be a marvelous time to laugh and share the day together.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.”
— Humbert H. Humphrey