Every morning on my way into the office, I meet Alan in the park for a chat as we walk our dogs. I first met him a couple of years ago one morning, and we quickly became fast friends. At 82, he’s surprisingly sprightly, but I am starting to see a gradual slowing, as he relies more and more heavily on his cane for walking in damp weather. We joke that he is my ‘adopted Granddad’, and I’ve come to think of him as such, looking forward to our morning meetings, his stories about growing up in Bradford and his travels with his firm throughout his career.
It was my birthday a while ago, and Alan, my lovely friend, gave me the most wonderful gift. Since I’ve known him, he has often quoted poetry to me, and has a deep love of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat. In an incredibly touching gesture, he presented an old worn copy of the Rubaiyat to me, which was the first copy he ever owned and was gifted to him on his 21st birthday. I was so moved. It felt as though such a lot of thought had gone into this simple, beautiful little gift, and I know just how much Omar Khayyam’s words mean to him, so it really did feel very special.
More recently, he presented me with a small doormat for the office with ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ on it. Some weeks ago, I was humming the well-known tune as it’s one of the songs in our Christmas repertoire with my choir this year. We had a long conversation about the film ‘The Victors’ with Frank Sinatra, and so, he saw this Christmas doormat and got it for me as a little reminder of our chats.
Christmas is fast approaching (3 weeks!), and I’m thinking about gifts and who I need to buy for. I’m guilty most years, as I think a lot of us are, of overspending- especially on the kids! It can be so easy to be swept away with the frantic shopping, huge adverts everywhere encouraging you to go nuts and buy loads of stuff for your loved ones OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT THINK YOU DON’T LOVE THEM! God forbid. Well, I think this year I’m going to try to be more mindful of how I spend. It’s not that I’m reluctant to spend money- far from it- I just wonder how much my mum really needs yet another Christmas themed oven glove, or my dad needs another ‘nice’ whiskey glass to drink his Christmas tipple from. Perhaps just one, really well thought out gift is all they need, something meaningful and personal that says ‘I love you’ more than Christmas-present-overload. Alan’s Rubaiyat didn’t cost him a penny, but it was the most beautifully thoughtful gift I think I’ve ever been given, and I’ll cherish it forever.