Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Gift of Giving Thanks

Yesterday morning as I was walking to work I got off the bus and walked down the street towards work. I crossed the street next to the odd fountain and on the other side of that street where I pass every morning there is a guy who is in a wheelchair who sells necklaces, bracelets and things that he makes. I see him every morning as I walk to work. I say "buenos días" and he responds in the friendliest way "buenos días".

(You see, as a young foreign looking girl I often get some unwanted attention, "hellos" that are a little bit less than agreeable. I've become quite aware of the difference between a sincere "hello" and one that is suspicious.)

Anyway, my friend in the wheelchair always says good morning in a pleasant way. It is, in some ways, my favorite part of every morning. It's just one of those "kindness of strangers" moments that makes life really special. I have walked by for weeks thinking, I'm going to stop and buy something from him before I leave. Well, yesterday, as I was walking by I glanced at him and said good morning and he reached out his hand to give me something. I stopped and he had a necklace in his hand.

He said, "Take it" and I was surprised and said, "Oh No" thinking "You don't have to give me anything" and he gave me a disappointed look and said, "You're not going to accept it?" I asked him if it was a gift and he said, "Of course, its for you to wear!" I took it into my hand and said, "Thank you, that is so nice!" and walked away with a huge smile on my face. That little exchange made my day! I have smiled every time I've thought about it since then.
This week was Thanksgiving and I was blessed to spend it with my family the Flores and the Quezadas who have become my family here as well. We went to an amazing thanksgiving dinner with a group of people made up mostly of Portuguese students and Peace Corps directors and volunteers. It was really cool. I enjoyed the conversation with the other volunteers and hearing all of their Thanksgiving stories.

I laughed quite a bit especially at the stories of one of the girls who grew up in one of those large families that always seem to have crazy stories. I am thankful for moments with strangers that fill your life and remind you that it is those little things that give us reasons to smile. Like stories shared with strangers around a Thanksgiving table and like my friend in the wheelchair giving me a gift before I had the chance to purchase it from him. I was thankful for both of those things, what a gift to be able to give thanks.

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke