Over the years, I have purchased a remarkable number of items that were intended to be gifts for other people. I have one such item on my desk right now — a white owl I purchased at the end of September. I intended to mail it to a friend whom I believed would enjoy it, yet here it sits. I promised another friend a pan of brownies months ago…I hope she understands when they show up around Christmas. I suppose this proves that I am, in fact, a terrible friend.
I have stacks of greeting cards purchased for birthdays, anniversaries, sympathy, and “just thinking of you.” Does it count that I have thought of these people without actually telling them? I tend to think it doesn’t. On the plus side, my lack of follow-through means that I automatically assume that everyone else is equally forgetful about actually mailing their greetings. I will never sit around wondering why this or that friend failed to send me a card; instead, I am thrilled to get any cards at all!
For those of you who still consider me a friend, please know that I think of you more often than you could ever realize. I reminisce about Ella and Emma at least once a week. I even think about calling — but then I look at the clock and know that they are working. Every time I step into a drugstore, I peruse the cards and find something perfect for one of the many women who have impacted my life — and I usually buy it with the intention of sending them a nice note. But it’s easier to hop on Facebook and read their posts, to leave them a “like” or a comment just so they know I’m still paying attention. The card is added to the stack in my desk drawer. Someday, when my niece clears out my house after I’m gone, she is going to think that I collected blank greeting cards.
I’d like to think that there’s a reason why so many of my cards don’t actually make it to the people I intend them to reach. Maybe those people would think I was ridiculously sentimental. Maybe they would even think I was stalking them. I’m not, of course. Who has that kind of time? But maybe their kindness made a bigger impression on me than it did on them. Maybe those items bought for others are really for me to keep and remember them by after they have left my life.
Probably not. But I think I’m keeping the owl.