Whether it comes from under the tree or from somewhere else, Christmas is a time for surprises.
Like running into the shoe god Christian Louboutin at Claridges and feeling self satisfied as he cast an approving nod in my direction. Specifically, at my luncheon selection- An impressively big, bulky cheeseburger accompanied by slender golden potatoes, fried to perfection.
Prior to this encounter I would have bet money that the preferences of this fashionable fellow were of a sophisticated nature. But the look on his face suggested he preferred a range of delicacies, both gourmand and pedestrian.
I could only hope that this broad based culinary attitude extended to his fashion sense as well.
How perfect it would have been if only I had predicted this chance encounter. My sartorial planning would have been spot on. I could have paid tribute to the great designer by sporting a pair of his shoes rather than someone else’s.
“I’m wearing THE ROW,” I sheepishly admitted. ”
“Then I promise not to look down,” he sweetly answered.
Not so charming. Our exorbitant wine bill.
“I love a good Montrachet,” my luncheon partner had exclaimed before ordering, sight unseen, what, according to WIKIPEDIA “many consider to be the greatest dry white wine in the world.”
“But it’s Christmas!” she exclaimed with a mixture of high enthusiasm and deep apology. Which, of course, was the only acceptable justification for our frivolous expenditure. Which, in truth, was still a bargain when compared to the cost of, perhaps, in the name of luxurious living, a new pair of Louboutins.
Christmastime does present an irresistible incentive to indulge ourselves. Or, even better, someone else.
My husband, who is a bit sick, recently had lunch with his oldest and, I daresay, best friend, who gave him a Christmas package to be opened, the note said, “when you’re having a bad day.”
Six weeks after receiving the Christmas box he did indeed open it.
Inside was a treasure trove of treats. Sweets to excite the palate, games to occupy the time and books for learning and diversion. So creative. You don’t put something like that together in a day. It took time and it took thoughtfulness. Every special gift had a tag attached, as well, offering instructions like,
“This one is for when you need some fun.”
We were both overwhelmed. He immediately called his friend to express his gratitude for such an unexpected and thoughtful gift. Only to be surprised again when he was told that it was actually the friend’s daughter who had come up with the idea of creating it.
“Thank you, thank you,” he wrote to her. “I had no idea what to expect, but the things you put together and your wonderful notes really did completely overwhelm me. It was a “cornucopia” of things that every man wants – but is far too grown-up to buy for himself!
I suspect he meant the complete 1969 edition of PLAYBOY Magazine as well as those marvelously colored flying saucer candies he had not tasted since childhood and which he consumed immediately upon discovering them .
“Your generosity,” he continued, “your kindness and your sheer inventiveness are amazing. It has quite made my day and kick-started Christmas in a wonderful festive way.”
“Oh,” she wrote back, “I am so delighted it did what it was supposed to do: And ‘picked you up’. I hoped it might also let you know that even those you may not know are thinking of you, are very much thinking of you…right there alongside you, willing you on.”
Yes, he could have expected his friend to care and to be “kind” but never did he think that his friend’s daughter would have. Really, who thinks to do something like that? To take the time to just behave so beautifully toward another human being?
It is part of her character, I am sure. But perhaps this is an example of Christmas Spirit as well. A time when we are moved to commit random acts of kindness.
Which is not to say that a fine bottle of Montrachet or a lovely pair of Louboutins would not be deliciously appreciated. I have an all inclusive attitude about gift giving.
But that holiday box was the sweetest present my husband received this year. It was a touching example of what is best about this season. The urge to “give” something to another and by doing so, expressing love and kindness. And kindness, as quoted by an anonymous writer, “is a gift everyone can afford to give.”