Extra Mileage


re-wrapped in love

Urgency Day 234

500 Things Items 256-67:  Re-gifts

How far would you go for a friend?

Most of us would say, “Anywhere;” to any lengths. And most of the time, we would mean it.

We would then have to confront those nagging memories of inconvenience, when we didn’t answer the ringing phone, or offer to take the children, or visit the nursing home.

Go the extra mile.

Last Thanksgiving, my niece flew, and my sister, my brother and my mom drove 726 miles to share a few precious hours and one iconic meal with us.

Last week, our best friends drove their three young sons 772 miles to celebrate Christmas morning with us.

726 miles and 772 miles, each way. That’s 2996 miles of love.

In a lifetime, that’s probably relatively insignificant. In the span of a few weeks, that’s an intervention.

Like so many right now, my family is enduring some tough times. The specific details vary; ours happen to be financial; others may be medical, emotional or spiritual. When you’re stuck in the middle of your particular pickle, however, the details matter less than the oppression. When, when, when. When will our life improve? When will my life improve? When?!

In the middle of this crazy myopia, we have been buoyed by an entire community, very near and much too far, of hearts walking around, driving around, flying around, trying to distract us from a wretched case of the “whens.”

“Now,” they say. Now we love you. Now we can be together. Now matters.

An on-going debate on these pages has been about striking a balance between regret and reform. I regret, often and obsessively, past profligacy. Every ridiculously misspent, overspent dollar now haunts me. Can even one of those dollars be recalled? Can any be regretted back into my back account? Oh my, no. But if they could, my regret would be the engine of redress.

So there’s no going back. But going forward, redeeming and reforming a profligate life, what does that look like?

It looks a lot like that bin of old wrapping paper pictured above.

As I downsize our possessions, through this project and through other calculated means, I have been asked if it wouldn’t be better just to hang onto our stuff, eventually use it up and not have the potential scenario of needing to repurchase something I am now downsizing.

That’s a very thoughtful query, one I can appreciate in a way I cannot the “More is always better!” rebuff I have received. And truthfully, is there some stuff I am simply using up instead of downsizing? Of course! Candles come to mind. I have a great many decorative candles which I will systematically burn through for as long as they will last. An abundance of candles is my least concern.

But the other items and broad categories of things that are being downsized:

  • the books,
  • the clothes,
  • the toys,
  • the decorations:

For the preservation of these, I feel no conflict, no internal debate. Downsize.

And so, our Christmas this year was themed around frugality, and one highlight was re-gifting. Our steadfast family and those same dear friends–those friends with the three boys who still believe– they accepted and embraced gifts from our downsizing efforts. Toys and clothes and books, gently used and specifically chosen, were wrapped as presents in whatever bits of paper could be found in the house. No new rolls of designer wrapping dressed up hand-me-downs: there was enough old paper and then some, if the gifter didn’t expect one continuous sheet to secret the gift under the tree.

The effect was still beautiful; the sentiment was priceless.

We’ve said our goodbyes, to our beloveds and also to some of our things. A new year quickly approaches. I can’t fly to anyone’s side to express my gratitude for all the love I have received this last difficult year, but in any way I can, in any way that truly matters, I would go to any lengths for each of  you, my dears.

Thank you. All of you.


4 Responses to “Extra Mileage”

  1. melanie Says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful post. I do believe my eyes teared up. Universally written, your writing expressed with such poetic simplicity and acceptance the ups and downs we experience. I rejoice with you that you have such dear friends and family who love you.

  2. sthibeault Says:

    And I rejoice that you are my dear friend. See you soon.

  3. Jimmy Says:

    My dear sister, I recently finished reading the complete Adams-Jefferson letters. Towards the ends of their lives, their thoughts on paper frequently turned to matters of family, lifelong friendship, ponderings on whether or not they would meet again in the great beyond, etc. I felt so privileged to be able to “be in their heads” as they wrote these wonderful letters. After a particularly beautiful one from TJ to JA, Adams wrote back saying it was the most amazing letter he’d ever read. Anyway, to make a long story short, I found myself thinking of TJ and his letter as I read your most recent blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you for who you are, for having the courage and energy to share your current circumstances with all of us, and for being the world’s best sister/sister-in-law/aunt/wife/mother/ daughter/friend. If wishing makes it so, then 2011 shall be the “when.”

    I love you.

  4. sthibeault Says:

    I am humbled, by the juxtaposition of your reference and the support and encouragement you send me everyday. I love you, too.

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