It wasn’t that long ago when Dan and I were so broke, we often didn’t know how we would pay the bills. I remember those early years together and how much we struggled, and so does he. Moving to Florida was something we did because we needed a chance to survive, not because we woke up one day and decided that Florida would be a fun change. It’s been a good move, but those desperate days are never far from our minds, and I think that often makes us overly cautious and sometimes downright frugal. We’re not big on treating ourselves, and it has not been a long time that we’ve had anything that you could call even close to ‘disposable income.’ We live pretty simply.
Today was the 29th day of the 29 Gift challenge for me, and we were scheduled to spend the morning with a former student and his son. Nick only visits for one month each year, and it’s hard for a young boy who doesn’t know his father very well to travel across the country and spend a month with a veritable stranger. The first year or two were very difficult, and because Nick’s father has some developmental and social challenges, Dan and I tried to make time to spend with father and son to help them develop a stronger relationship. That was the planned gift for the day.
Knowing that Nick’s dad works a low-wage job and doesn’t have much extra money, especially after paying to fly his son to Florida for a month each year, Dan and I picked up the tab at the Navy SEAL Museum, where we started the day. Honestly, I think we could have skipped the museum and gone straight for the beach because a chance to swim in the ocean was a very big deal for this eleven year-old kid, and it didn’t cost a penny. Then it was lunch – who picks Burger King when you can pick pizza? But Nick did, so Dan and I sprung for lunch with the King (yuck!). I know it’s not a lot of money, but because Dan and I remember those days so vividly and painfully, I know it’s a gift we both were aware of giving.
I added to my gift by jumping in the pool with Nick and swimming until my skin was pruney, but he had a great time, and we finished off our day with ice cream cones that were a huge treat for him (and gave me a big bellyache after the BK lunch debacle), so the entire day was a big success for Nick and his dad, who had a chance to see how to have normal interactions with his own son. That is, of course, assuming Dan and I and the interactions we have with anyone are normal, but for Nick, it was a gift of our time and our willingness to make it a fun day for him.
What a surprise then, when on the way home to catch up on some of the work we’d let slide in order to accommodate Nick today, our realtor called with a purchase offer on the house we’ve had up for sale since December. We’re heading out to meet with her now, but my first thought was one of extreme gratitude and the quiet knowledge that both St. Joseph and the universe must be working together to let me know that the 29 Gift challenge is a pretty awesome thing. I think the first of my 29 gifts was to bury poor St. Joseph in the front yard to appease my dad, who really believes that will help sell the house.
And while my dad’s faith in St. Joseph is probably the reason an offer came in, I love the universal coincidence that an offer came in on the last of the 29 Gift challenge. For me, it’s a nice piece of closing punctuation to emphasize that giving is always a good thing. So, while I may not ever be comfortable writing down what gifts I have given on a daily basis, I do believe that being open and giving of myself and what I have is not only good for others, but good for me, too. Today, maybe the universe (and St. Joseph) conspired to remind me of that. And for that, I am grateful. I may not keep up a daily journal of my gifts from here on out, but I do believe I will continue to offer them moving forward, and I will make try very hard to do so consciously – to be present when I give, so I can experience the entire gifting process – part of which is really, now I understand, about me, too. So it’s been a good month, and I am finishing it off feeling exceptionally grateful and happy