I have to admit that the holidays never really held any special significance for me. Sure, as a kid they mean getting stuff, stuff you don’t really need, but as an adult, the holidays basically just amount to a blip on the budgetary radar wherein you have to spend money on things you wouldn’t normally spend money on. Despite my uncharitable view on the holiday, this particular Christmas has finally managed to cut through the fog of materialism and really get my attention.
To my co-workers, I gave only as chance dictated. My boss got a book on the proper use of the rhythm method of birth control, my co-workers received a simple plastic glass, a copy of the Necrocomicon and a Satanic Bible as their own personal tastes dictated. Amanda and Isabella received very nearly what they asked for with the exception that Amanda is also the proud owner of a large, natural barnacle scraped from some sea-side edifice. Buying for children is always far too easy to be properly satisfying. For that one particularly special person in my life, I simply poured out my soul as best I could. Circumstance is not yet my ally but I had endless enjoyment devising and executing new ideas to express myself through the physical manifestations of gifts.
No, what took my breath away was not the act of giving in this case, but instead what I received. The closest analogy I can draw is that the giver tore away part of her soul and handed it to me. The giver, one of my closest co-workers, is remote to my office in Indy, which makes this all the more astounding. She sent me a bit of her original artwork, one that she describes as ‘her best’ and I have to admit that it’s pretty impressive. It is indeed a very powerful piece and quite frankly I’ve not yet gotten my mind (or my ability to articulate) around the fact that she sent it to me. What makes me shake my head even more is the fact that when I tried, most inadequately, to express my gratitude, she said in the most self-effacing way that I can imagine, “If you decide to throw it away, please send it back to me first.” Sitting here looking at it hanging on my wall, I want to cry even considering such an act. That someone could send such a gift and at the same time consider that the receiver might simply “throw it away” boggles my mind. It is, simply, unthinkable.
What is even more amusing to me is that at a couple of weeks ago when I heard that she’d gotten me a gift, I racked my brain for a few days considering what I could possibly get her, remembering that in order to do so it had to be truly meaningful. It didn’t take long for my mind to wander around to our previous discussions of art and it quickly dawned on me that the only reasonable gift for her would be an original work of art. Sadly, there wasn’t sufficient time left to produce such an item and Monday found me completely off guard, completely trumped and beaten to my own punch. I stand here agog.
What is truly ironic is that this person may never know just how much of an impact her gift had on me. As I sit here in my empty apartment, listening to the putting of some noisy and mysterious engine outside in the parking lot and the echoes of my own keystrokes, I’m reminded of just how incredibly lonely I am. In the past year I’ve given up absolutely everything; my life has been utterly torn asunder. With a few very scant exceptions, I’ve lost all the people I cared about or even talked to on a regular basis. Her gift gives me very real and potent hope for the future. I may be alone now, as alone as the singular, falling leaf on an autumn day, but I rest assured in the knowledge that I’m only as alone as I allow myself to feel.
Thank you, Amy, for being a shining light in my life and inspiring me to seek out true friendship.