Grateful 24

I checked my mailbox the other day and found a padded envelope, postmarked in the Netherlands. It was open and empty except for a cheese slice. I didn’t recognise the handwriting but had an aha moment when I recalled admiring MN’s slice last time I was in Dublin as it was so much stronger than the one in my kitchen drawer. So I emailed her and thanked her, assuming that she had been thoughtful enough to get me one the last time she was in Holland. She said she hadn’t sent it and suggested that perhaps LN had, as she had just been there. So I emailed LN to thank her for her kindness and she said she hadn’t sent it either, but that she had asked BN to send it to me from Haarlem. In any event, it arrived safely.

This happens to me quite regularly and has been happening on a regular basis for years. I comment on something or say I like something or ask someone where they got such and such and days, or weeks, or even months later, I end up with one too. This type of consideration, the paying attention to small details, the taking notice of wishes expressed and things said in passing is one of life’s greatest treasures.

Whether it’s making sure there’s milk and food in my fridge when I get back from a trip or sending flowers just because, or remembering that I’ve been looking for a good cheese slice, these random acts of kindness go a long way towards making me a better person. Because they are done unto me, I then try to do likewise for others. A virtuous circle.

This week was a difficult one and the appearance of that cheese slice made all the difference. I’m reminded of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:  You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. And I’m grateful for the reminder that I shouldn’t think twice about acts of kindness or consideration. I should just do it.

Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52

Grateful 39

Some years ago, I was considering moving to Haarlem in the Netherlands. High up on the list of reasons why I should was the abundance and year-round availability of inexpensive cut flowers.  I had visions of an airy house, with a garden, lots of windows, shallow-stepped stairs, and every room sporting its own vase of fresh flowers. Instead I moved to Budapest where fresh flowers cost a small fortune. My favourites, white gladiolas, can cost as much as €4 per stem and by the time they get to Budapest, they’re well open and I’m lucky if they last three days.

Mam got these flowers for Easter – 30 yellow tulips. And they’ve opened beautifully. If I could paint, I’d have the easel up and the watercolours out. But I can’t, so I had to make do with a photo. They’ve given me pause for thought though.

Many years ago, I dated an Australian whose weekly grocery list included a bunch of flowers. When I first discovered this curiosity, I was rather surpised as my boyo was a bit of a man’s man doing manly work. But I had no trouble getting used to it. A good mate of mine in Scotland sends me flowers on occasion – much to the amusement of my neighbours, who are at their wits end to discover where these flowers come from and who the mysterious P is (I’m sure they’re human enough to have peeked into the little message envelope).

In today’s world everything seems to be disposable. It is getting harder and harder to find that perfect gift for people who seem to have everything they need and are clueless as to what they want. Flowers are the answer. Is there anything more cheerful than a dash of colour in a vase, be they a simple bunch of wild flowers or a designer bunch of carefully chosen stems put together by a trained hand?

This week, although my head is all over the place and I’m questioning the very essence of life, it was this bunch of flowers that reminded me that life can be over analysed. While everything happens for a reason, sometimes it’s not necessary that we know why. Sometimes, simplicity is everything. While we might need to make decisions that will change the very nature of how we live, we don’t have to do it this very minute. Today, I took time to smell the tulips and give thanks for everyone in my life who has, a some stage, shared some flowers with me.