Thursday, February 29, 2024

Free Gift


            One of the high points of the last few months was a gift I received. Costa, a classmate who enjoys reading my blog, sent me a thank-you gift of chocolates that he makes. This was no small gift, as there was a lot of very high-quality dark chocolate, and he shipped it here from Switzerland. He sees this as a thank you for the gift of my blog, but I see it as a totally free gift. (I’ve always objected to the term “free gift,” because if you buy it, then it’s not really a gift, is it?)


            But I mean totally “free” because it’s an unexpected gift. There are a number of occasions where gifts are more or less expected – birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, etc. But a gift out of the blue is something else. We celebrate Costa’s gift from day to day or week to week, eating samples of those excellent dark chocolates. (So far, our favorites are the orange and cranberry chocolates, which I use to practice mindful attention.) We plan to share this gift with neighbors when they finally return, perhaps with a tasting party.


            The gift from Costa alerted me to other free gifts that I receive – mostly from Kim, in the form of, for example, the French toast with fruit she fixed for breakfast, or the warm towel awaiting the end of my shower. But also free are some unexpected good news in a phone call from a friend or family member, or someone who calls just to renew a connection. (Kim is great at spontaneous phone calls to friends. For some possibly male reason, I don’t make those calls unless Kim says I should.) I’m also good at finding free gifts in the form of coins in a parking lot, but also in the form of a bright moonrise, or a surprise Northern Michigan sunny winter day.


            How about free gifts you can give? It’s hard to count generous tips at a restaurant when the screen has a check-list of amounts, which means there’s an expectation, which takes it out of my “free gift” category. Holding open a door for someone can count, unless you do it as a male chauvinist. A spontaneous compliment to a stranger works, unless it’s a creepy flirtation. But picking up a toy that a child drops on a sidewalk or in a restaurant can count, or maybe just a smile or wave to a kid as you walk by.


            Costa’s chocolate was a gift that he gave as a thank you, which suggests that it was a response to a gift I gave him. Maybe . . . but I write these posts mainly to entertain myself, not to create a gift to give to other people. But I love having an audience, so maybe I am creating gifts without expectations, certainly without obligations, of gifts owed in return.


            I asked Costa if he might want me to sell some of his chocolates. His answer:


Finally, absolutely NO, I never even thought of selling my homemade chocolates.

FYI, each batch of chocolates I make is usually 3-5 lbs. at a time.


Furthermore, in the first place, I absolutely do not need or care for the money, and, in

the second place, human life is simply too short for me to get involved in such business.

Please accept the fact that these are small gifts for you and Kim, because I do care and

like you folks through reading your (almost) daily column writings.


With affection,




            Thus: a free gift. But, of course, a thank you creates a connection – another kind of gift. Thank you, Costa.


1 comment:

  1. I like to give gifts on non holidays.I also like the surprise of receiving gifts like wine & flowers. I used to have a friend who gave me Kilwin’s chocolates when she thought she hurt my feelings. Sorry to say, she moved away. There’s something to be said about the gift of giving.