It's odd the way a random act of kindness from a stranger can mean so much to us, isn't it? Today I was presented with an unexpected gift from an enchanting little girl, 4 year old Marie from Quebec. I've never met her before, yet after having a conversation with her friendly parents while I was on my coffee break at work, she slid a braided friendship bracelet from her tiny wrist and handed it to me, a toothy grin spread across her face. I took the bracelet in my hands and admired it, asked her if she had made it herself and congratulated her on her brave colour choice (pink and red and kaki green, oh my!) before handing it back to her, believing she had only wanted to show it to me.
“No, it's for you!” Marie cried joyfully and refused to take back the bracelet.
For me? I thought. But why? "She really wants you to have it," her mother told me in French.
After thanking Marie profusely and telling her I will wear it with pride, her mother explained how Marie often likes to give presents to strangers who she instantly takes a liking to. Particularly, so says her mum, blonde people.
What a lovely thing for a child to want to do, I thought to myself, waving off the family as they commenced their visit in the chateau. I was charmed. Marie, I hope, will always possess this unselfish quality. Such a small gesture from such a small girl, who will never remember this in the years to come, but for me I will have the fond memory and the bracelet, which will be stored in a brass box I keep in the top drawer of my bedside table.
Inside that brass box is also the very first gift that FP ever gave me. A small token of secret admiration, a multi-coloured scoobidoo helicopter he had made for me at a party, before we were even together. Before we had even left our previous partners. Such a random and un-romantic gift, and yet I took it home and kept it in my top drawer for the next six months or so before we began our relationship, smiling to myself when I came across it from time to time. It's possible that even back then, deep down, I knew that the scoobidoo helicopter sculpted by FP would be one of those presents that really meant something.
And from receiving meaningful presents to offering them. When Marie gave me that bracelet today it brought to mind something that I haven't thought about for years. It reminded me of when I was younger and I wanted to give my dear old mum a gift. (Actually she wasn't old back then, nor is she old now and if she reads any of that she'll kill me.) Having received only about 50 pence for my weekly pocket money at the time, and putting that towards my subscription to Bunty, time and time again I would end up choosing the easier, cheaper home-made option. I would go into the garden with an empty jam jar in hand, and pick all of the petals off of my dad's prize roses (this was frowned upon). A handful of soil would be bunged in on top of that and then I'd pick up all the dandelions I could find (this was not frowned upon whatsoever, quite the opposite in fact), mush them up in my hand, and add them to the mixture. After picking any other random petals I could find from our flower beds, I would then add water to the jam jar and, with a short, thick stick, mix it all up. I'd leave it for three days and three nights on the doorstep to make the smell really strong and eventually, when the time was right, I'd hand the dirty, scummy water to my mum, a proud grin all over my face.
“There you go mum, I made you some perfume!”
I always wondered why my poor mother didn't actually use the perfume I gave her. I suppose she might have preferred a friendship bracelet, or a daisy chain or even a crayoned drawing. At least those things can be kept inside a brass box in the top drawer of a bedside cabinet. I can't imagine a jam jar of scummy water and moulding flowers to stand the test of time.
Thanks little Marie, for bringing back these memories. And thanks for the friendship bracelet.