“The gifts we treasure most over the years are often small and simple. In easy times and tough times, what seems to matter most is the way we show those nearest to us that we’ve been listening to their needs, to their joys, and to their challenges.” – Fred Rogers
Today’s act of love presented itself at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), where I drag my tired body nearly every weekday morning to exercise. When I walked in, the van driver was biting into a piece of rocky road fudge, his eyes rolling with ecstasy. Linda, the front desk receptionist laughed, “You should have seen what someone brought me yesterday!” as she took another bite. I presented my membership card to her and she greeted me and smiled; a big chocolate covered tooth smile.
I thought, “Hey, people are giving gifts to the receptionist at the JCC! What an incredible way to show LOVE!”
Linda deserved a gift. She comes to work at 5:00 every morning, and greets each person by name and with a smile.
Then, of course, I thought of Tim, the one with the self-improvement books and battered spiral notebook. He too greets me by name, and usually with a laugh as I check into the fitness center, because he knows I am going to ask him what he is reading or writing today.
So, what to get them? Tim was easy; more on him later. Linda was more difficult because I don’t know her. A Caribou card? Does she even like coffee? McDonald’s? I was determined not to get her another sweet treat. Honestly, how much chocolate can one person take? I know, a lot.
So, as I was leaving, I asked her, “What do you do when you are not working here?” (She works part time). She said, “I take care of my parents.” She and I are of the same generation, and I know what she means about taking care of parents (although mine are doing just fine, thank you very much).
So, knowing how stressful care-giving can be and how we could all use a little soothing LOVE, I bought her a big bar of scented Shea Butter soap. It smelled like a warm summer day, and I hoped the fragrant lather would feel good on her skin. Just a little something to let her know she was loved. By me, and most certainly by her parents.
Tim, I bought a notebook. A smaller, neater version of his spiral notebook.
I wrapped the gifts and then debated: Happy Hanukah or Merry Christmas? You’re never really sure when you are at the JCC. I settled on “Happy New Year”.
Later in the day, I went back to the JCC. I handed the gift to Linda, who was so pleased to receive it. I thanked her for her smile every morning.
Tim was not working today. But that was OK. I handed the gift to the person sitting at his desk and told her to put it somewhere where he would find it. I didn’t sign my name. It’s especially fun to think about him trying to figure out who it is from. It will not take him long.
So, today, I did two small acts of LOVE. And didn’t it feel good?