It’s not unusual for Meredith to get up before me, get the dog out, start the coffee and turn on the heat in our home office. What I didn’t know was that she was also checking emails on my computer to make sure I didn’t see any of the order confirmations or shipment notifications that were coming through for a gift. And I was bringing home so many presents for nieces and nephews from the post office, that I didn’t notice an extra one. I just handed them all over to her for repackaging and reshipping. I had no reason to be suspicious.
This year, we had agreed not to buy each other gifts. Since we’re both too close for comfort to age 60, and we generally buy what we want for ourselves anyway, it seemed practical to me. I should have known when she agreed so readily and calmly that something was up. And, looking back on it, there were the questions about where the Menorah was, did we have enough candles for all eight nights of the Festival of Lights, where exactly in the house they should be lit.
But I was completely surprised when, on the first night of Chanukah this year, Dec. 8, she said, “I can’t wait anymore!” And she handed me a gift-wrapped box. It had odd angles and some soft spots. “Go ahead, feel it,” she said, and the light in her eyes was just as bright as any that would be on the Menorah. “What do you think it is?”
I rubbed and squeezed and shook it up and down. A nightgown? No. A pair of hiking boots? No. A Scrabble game? No.
“Open it!” If she had had a tail, it would have been wagging ferociously. So I opened it.
And we spent hours that night enjoying it. She guided me through starting it up, and trying it out. I will long remember the gift she gave me this year. Not because of what it is — an iPad — but because of how much she enjoyed giving it to me. That’s the gift that will keep on giving.
Ellen Holzman is the talented author of the short story "Call of the Riled," a hilarious and complex mystery told entirely in letters to the editor of a small-town newspaper. It appears in volume three of Istoria's Lunch Reads series--short stories you can devour on a lunch hour.