Dan is out of town for a few days, and even though taking on the daily chores of animal care and feeding takes up a lot of time, when it happens in the summer, it means I have a chance to catch up on cleaning, too. After getting my writing and work done this morning, I spent the afternoon scrubbing our kitchen within an inch of my life…okay, I didn’t bother with the insides of the cupboards; that’s for another day, but everything on the counters and outside surfaces is sparkling clean and tidy. Tomorrow’s goal is to dive into the bedroom and do the same, including a bit of necessary purging that cannot be done while Dan is close by.
But all that cleaning means a sore back and tired me, and my plan was to pour a glass of Cabin Fever and soak in the hot tub to soothe my aching back. So when my dad called to invite me to their house to share a Friday fish dinner, my first thought was to politely decline. But I know how hard it is for me when I invite them to something and they reject my offer, and I thought it would be nice to spend some time with them all by myself, so I stuck my chin out and said I’d be happy to join them for dinner. I figured it would be my conscious gift today.
I’m so glad I had dinner with my parents. Not only was the fish delicious and reminiscent of Fridays in Lent when I was a child and we’d stop at the Cortland Fish Market for fried fish for dinner, but it was a pleasure to spend time with my dad and mom. The television wasn’t on, we only talked politics for a few minutes, and the conversation was easy and relaxed. It was the nicest time I’ve had with them in a while. I told them about the book I’ve just finished and how my proofreading friend raved about it, and they told me about their three doctors’ appointments this week and the adventures that ensued.
On the way home from their house, I was treated to a sunset so lovely I drove right past our street and headed to the end of the road where I could get a clearer view of it and take a photo to share with Dan. I climbed up on a fence and balanced myself to get a couple of good shots, and I bathed in the warm, reds, oranges, and cool violets as it started to dip below the horizon in its final curtain call. When I got home, the feral cat who has been hanging around let me feed her a couple pieces of the leftover fish, and she even ate a couple of morsels out of my hand, which was a first and a gift to me.
This giving challenge is challenging because it’s hard to give consciously when so much of our giving is automatic. I think that having to do it consciously makes me consider it even more and weigh it more heavily – sometimes moreso than I probably need to. When I shared the idea with Anne, my proofreader, who is a fabulous writer and so prolific, she said that she thought the next round of 29 gifts should be gifts we give to ourselves because we are so quick to give to others and let ourselves do without. I think she may have a point, but I also think I’m getting a lot of positive feelings and even a few gifts of my own just from consciously giving and making myself write about it each day during this process.