I have four grandchildren under the age of 12. As a travel journalist I travel a lot. On each trip I try to bring one gift that will be of special interest to each child. Where possible I try to include an educational element. As a rule I try to stay within a $10-$15 budget.
Birthdays, Mother's Day, I Love You Days. You want to show your mom and your children's grandma how much you love her but choosing gifts are getting harder and harder. She already has acquired so many things herself that really, all you are doing is duplicating. And, if it's not to her taste, she won't tell you and your present will be packed away in a closet. I know. I've been there with my own mom.
My bulletin board is covered in homemade tributes from the little ones. Money cannot buy the unabashed sentiments expressed in a five-year-old's missive. Or when they lay out their own 'hard-saved' cash to buy the card and make sure that you know all about it. ie., 'Bubby, I bought this card with my own money.' Love xox Jessie or 'Bubby, this book cost me $8.00 and I paid for it out of my own money.' Love, Lotus.
By now you must be sick and tired about reading that my bag was lost for 99 days coming home from Antarctica and then miraculously found courtesy of LAN Airlines. You probably also know all about how everyone online and off joined to try and locate my beautiful Indian pashmina.
Enough already. Right?
I feel the same way but something so very lovely has happened that I am compelled to blog about it if only to introduce you to the generosity of an American woman I met online but never face to face. Please bear with me. It's a sweet story.
On April 8, 2013 I received an email message from Facebook that said, Marie Fritz mentioned you in a comment. Marie wrote: 'Check out my latest post — it's yours Evelyn Hannon! Message me so that I can send it to you.'
Of course that's an intriguing message to receive especially from someone you've never met. I immediately checked her post and this is what I found. Marie wrote, 'For you, Evelyn Hannon. I just bought this item from a NOVICA artisan."
And this is what I saw. An absolutely beautifully embroidered shawl. For me. From an absolute stranger.
My first reaction was that my eyes immediately welled with tears. My second was to chastise myself for writing that 'poor me' blog lamenting the loss of my favorite pashmina. It wasn't the end of the world, after all, and now some sweet empathetic woman was trying her best to make me feel better. I immediately wrote to Marie insisting that though I was pleased that she found the shawl for me, I absolutely had to pay for it myself. She wouldn't hear of it and true to her promise my new pashmina arrived via courier two weeks later. Oh my goodness that shawl was even nicer than I first imagined.
To add to the drama, soon afterwards, my lost suitcase was found with all my belongings in it and everything perfectly intact. My first thought was, 'Oh my G-d. Now I have two beautiful shawls and ... an awful lot more guilt. I immediately messaged Marie to tell her what had transpired. This was her exuberant, generous reply.
'Evelyn— I am OVER-THE-MOON happy for you! It was in my heart that it would be returned to you — and it was! You have made my day! I must come visit Toronto. It has been a long time since I've been there — maybe we can do lunch!'
This Facebook friend was simply just unbelievably thoughtful and caring!
Shortly after, I left for a two week assignment in Russia and I admit I selfishly made little time to think of anything expect 'getting my story.' That is, until I walked into a gift shop and there hanging on a rack was an elegant, taupe and pink, oh so stylish, 80% wool, silk-fringed, made in Russia, absolutely wonderful woman's shawl.
'I want that one.' I said to the clerk without hesitation. And she wrapped it and I brought it back to Canada with me.
Marie Fritz doesn't know about her new present bought in Moscow. She'll only find out about it when she reads this bog post.
'Marie, I hope you love your Russian gift. You are a very special woman and I'm extremely proud to call you my 'SHAWL SISTER.'
P.S. Yes, please come to Toronto. Yes, let's do lunch. My treat!