As an adult, I have had the pleasure of giving a fair number of gifts. Not a lot, not often, but I do have three kids, after all! Between birthdays and Christmas, you gotta figure that makes quite a few gifts in 10+ years.
I have also had a fair number of friends, though very few turned out to be good enough to hold on to… and my own young adulthood was spent moving around, meeting new people, not quite making real connections. My mother forbade me from ever talking to my best friend since elementary (that’s another story that I probably will never share here, I’m just saying!), and she was the last real connection I’d made in years.
In the last 15 years or so, I’ve had the fortune of making a few really good friends, ones that are there for me, that I can laugh with, cry on their shoulders, have them cry on mine, and know that no matter what, we have each others’ backs. In spite of that, I have never given any of them much in the way of gifts. Distance and finances usually make me have to prioritize family over friends.
They’re so good, I know they understand.
I don’t think that I’ve ever talked about my friend PM extensively here, perhaps once in a whole in passing. My daughters got us together: 12 years ago, PM lived in a townhouse right behind our apartment complex. At some point, my older daughters, while exploring outside, discovered this kid living across the fence, a young girl about their age. My middle child decided she would climb the fence to go visit with this child, who turned out to be my friend’s daughter.
With me so far? Good. Let’s move on.
It’s now nearly 12 years later. My friend PM has been there for me through thick and thin, even when we don’t talk for weeks at a time. She also happens to be a great tea drinker. You know how some people can’t start their day until they’ve had some coffee? She’s the same way about tea. In fact, she’s so adamant about her tea, her mugs have been getting bigger and bigger.
Last Christmas, I went to visit her as I’ve been doing nearly every year for the last 4 years, and discovered her husband and daughter had given her this huge, ginormous, magnificent cup that literally could fit 8 standard (6 oz) teacups. I mean, this thing must be a good 6 inches wide, 4-5 inches tall, and, filled to the top, is just shy of 6 cups, or 48 oz.
She loves that mug! It allows her to get a lot of tea that she nurses for about an hour. Of course, there’s only the one cup, so she rotates with other not-quite-so-big-but-darned-big mugs. But I laughed so hard internally (and a little out loud, too, I won’t lie, right in front of her) about her tea addiction!
So imagine my delight when I discovered this teacup in the weeks preceding Easter 2011. It’s not really a cup, it’s meant to be a planter, but it looks just like the real thing: Proper handle, even a saucer attached to the “cup”. It’s about 7 inches across by 6 inches tall.
When it went on sale the week after Easter, I grabbed one immediately: the discount was seriously enticing, and the remaining ones were flying off the shelves. I took that cup home, knowing this was absolutely the very best gift EVER for her. First of all, the obvious gag about her love of tea was obvious in the sheer size of the thing. Second, I know she does a little porch gardening; if she wanted to, she could plant something meaningful to her in it. Third, she also does some composting; in that process, she recylces (what else?) teabags. Beyond all that, it was meant to symbolize the size of the love and affection I have for her.
In the months that followed, I was given the idea to crank up the gift another notch by filling the cup with an assortment of teas. “BRILLIANT!” I thought.
So I gathered teas at discount.
Now before I go any further, I have to tell you one more thing about my friend PM. Her birthday is on December 14th, as is her daughter’s. That means whatever gift I give might as well be really good, because it has to serve as both birthday and Christmas present.
I already knew I was probably going to be visiting her between the two events, as I usually do. I work on Christmas Eve every year, collecting the holiday pay, but my kids are on vacation for a week before that, so I’d better get it together if we’re to visit!
Meantime, I sat on the secret for months. And months. And months. Two months ago, in a conversation with PM, I let it drop that I have a gift for her of such epic proportions that the suspense was killing me, and I could hardly wait to give it to her. She, of course, asked to know what it was, to which I responded, “No way! You’ll just have to wait, it’s your birthday/Christmas present! I’ll bring it when we come.” She was good enough not to push me.
So I waited some more.
Finally, the day had come: we were going to visit PM and her family, an event that is already highly anticipated in my household, because they’re just good people.
On the fateful day, I suddenly realized I hadn’t yet gotten enough tea to fill her ginormous mug, so I made a quick stop to the store and got 4 more boxes of fairly high quality tea, also at a discount. This brought the total to 6 boxes of tea: 120 teabags.
We traveled the nearly two hours to her house. I brought the package in, but still I sat on the secret. For one thing, we needed to reconnect for a few minutes. Eventually, the conversation turned to things she herself had gotten for my daughter. “Maybe this is the time,” I thought. I’d originally thought I’d save it for the evening, when our real partying was going to be more in the spirit, so to speak.
You know what, though? I couldn’t wait any longer.
I brought out her present. I had set it up so that there were some boxes of tea on top of the cup (which I’d had to lay on its side so that I could get it to fit in the gift bag). As a result, for a moment she was likely thinking I had gotten her just a ridiculous amount of tea.
Then she saw the cup. She pulled it out.
I don’t even know how to describe the moment of awesomeness that crossed her face. She started laughing, for one thing. “Oh my God that is the biggest cup ever!” A few minutes later, it occurs to her to ask the pertinent question: “Is it a real cup?”
Now as she asks this, there are still two boxes of tea at the bottom of the cup. I pick them out of there, revealing the drainage hole indicating this is actually a planter.
She laughed some more.
On her suggestion, we started taking the individual packets out of the various boxes. I had purchased six different varieties, which all turned out to have different colored wrappers:
- Earl Grey
- English Teatime (Decaf)
- English Breakfast
- Orange Spice
- Chamomille with Lemon and
- Chamomille Spearmint
We sat them in the cup, and found there was just enough to have them peaking out of the cup, almost like a flower growing out of the pot. When PM saw this, she started grinning. She doesn’t often physically grin, her laughter is often ready but her smile is always discrete.
My best friend was grinning big enough for her dimples to show.
The more she looked at this present, the more she grinned. She kept finding all the symbolisms of what I had done, how this was exactly perfectly her. “Tea is a symbol of warmth and comfort, and prosperity; it’s a sign that all is well in global commerce.” I cannot explain to you how absolutely joyful that made me feel. This epic-sized present had epic meaning that so touched her, she smiled for a good 15 minutes. In fact, she was periodically laughing, grinning, and staring, then back to laughing again.
Eventually she piped up, “I need to name it!”
I laughed. All of a sudden this had gotten cranked up to another notch of awesome.
We discussed it for a while, her family and I. We kicked around all kinds of things, including “Cupasaurus T”, “Cupopotamus”, and “Tea Cup Nebula”. Suddenly, PM yells out “Teatotal Hairy Teacup!”
This is a variation on an expression you may or may not be familiar with: to have a “teetotal hairy fit”. It’s meant to describe a fit of anger or pique of enormous proportions. Unbeknownst to me, at some point in the relatively distant past, Pam had spoken of a desire to find a cup to match.
This is a slideshow to demonstrate:
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Hours later, she’s still pleased. She’ll look at it and start smiling again. Or she’ll joke “I need some more tea!” to which her husband will say “We’re out, we need to get more at the store.”
It’s the biggest, best present I’ve ever given, and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to present it this year.
PM, I absolutely love you. Thank you for being a friend. (We might not be as old as the Golden Girls, but I hope we will be, together.)Vodpod videos no longer available.