Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Nice Thing

I drove to D.C. for the weekend with Jonathan, and before I left my mother told me to be sure to check for a box that was scheduled to arrive. “It’s your Valentine,” she said, “and it’s kind of a big box.” I immediately assumed she meant she was sending a painting—a watercolor of three girls playing in the surf—that my grandmother painted before I was born. I thought about sending the painting to myself the last time I was home, but it was too expensive to ship.

My mother isn’t a very good gift giver. For Christmas, my family pulled names and decided to get their person one nice thing, no more than forty dollars. Instead of buying me a nice leather address book or a sweater or something, my mom went to Staples and bought a bunch of little journals and notebooks, a pedometer that didn’t work, a pair of sparkly dress socks. At first I just opened them and thanked her, but then a few days later I realized that there was no reason why I couldn’t return those things, so I did. Mom didn’t seem too hurt. “I’d rather have one nice thing,” I explained. She nodded her head.

When I got back from D.C., my roommate was sitting on the couch reading, and she gave me a hurt expression. “Your box came,” she said, looking at the floor. I looked down to see a big, square cardboard box whose top had been smashed. “I’m a little worried,” my roommate said, “because the box says fragile.” Trying to ignore my slight feeling of disappointment--inside this square could not possibly be a painting--I cut open the flaps, moved the tissue paper aside, and lifted out a long cylinder. Pieces of glass fell from the paper and onto the floor. “Oh no,” I moaned, “it’s broken.” My mom had attached a note inside. “These candlesticks are from Egypt,” she said, “and they’re glass (I had to ask the clerk) so be careful.”

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