I’ve received two nifty Christmas gifts this past week, and both are more about the narratives than about the gifts, themselves, perhaps.
First of all, the other day after school, I stopped in at the office to get my mail from my slot. No mail, but there was a very prettily-wrapped large, flat package, in blue paper and a bow and glittery Christmas Stockings on the label. It said, simply, “To Ms. Olson, from Secret Santa.”
My first reaction was panic because I thought I’d somehow received an organized “Secret Santa” gift from someone and I’d not drawn a name, myself– how embarrasing! I quickly asked Sandy, in the office, if there’d been one of those gifting parties organized this year and I missed it, and she reassured me that no, there hadn’t been…the gift wasn’t a mistake.
I looked at the writing–it looked very familiar, in one way–and suspected that it was Shuckhart, my colleague and good friend. Justin was with me at the time, and he thought this, too, even though we’d just had dinner at the Shuckharts’ and we’d agreed not to gift this year. We’re broke, they’re broke, I have medical bills, and they have brand-new preemie twins and more medical costs than one could wrap a mind around.
Still, I asked Shuckhart, and said, “Nope.” In a way that I believed him.
What was the gift, you might ask? I beautiful European-made calendar of Stockholm. Gorgeous photos. Text in Swedish, English, German, and Russian. Very, very cool–and because I am a fan of Scandinavia and am Swedish myself, in heritage, I have to assume it’s someone who knows me quite well, yes?
I can’t wait to hang it up in a couple of weeks. It’s gorgeous. And I wish some unnamed Secret Santa out there a very happy Christmas, and I wish I could return the joy!
The second story actually began while we were dining at the aforementioned Shuckharts’ home last weekend. We got to talking about upcoming plans, and I mentioned the beginning of March for some reason. Justin, casually walking away so I couldn’t see his face, said, “Don’t plan anything for March First.”
I immediately ran through all my in-laws’ birthdates, my parents’, and school functions…nada.
“What’s March first?” I asked.
“Nothing. Just don’t plan anything for it…” Oh, he’s sneaky, isn’t he?
“Will I find out on Christmas, perchance?” I asked, getting a confirmation. Cool! I like surprises like this!
Now, the thing you have to know is that Justin also has a habit of never closing out of windows (or even signing out before he does close them), and I woke early the next morning to find several open web pages on the computer. As I began closing out of them, I noticed one of them featured Greg Brown, one of my favorite musical artists, and so of course I began reading the news item.
The news item that said, in essence, “Greg Brown to perform in St. Cloud on March 1, 2009.”
And while I can be very, very dense and slow on the uptake, this wasn’t very difficult to figure out, you know? And while I was thrilled to find out that we were going to see Greg Brown live, I was very torn on what to do about finding the webpage. I hate lying, even for a good reason, and I’m not very good at it anyway. Yet, I didn’t want to ruin Justin’s Christmas Day surprise.
I tabled the decision, waiting to see if he even brought it up before Christmas.
A couple of days later, he did, while we were driving to work. “Only a few days and you’ll know what March First is!” he teased, happily. In a split-second decision, I decided against lying, even for a good reason. I told him what had happened.
All is well. We laughed, he doesn’t seem disappointed that the surprise didn’t last longer than it did, and besides…we’re going to see Greg Brown in March AND I have a nice, new, Swedish calendar!