Because I am who I am, I tend to be drawn into those chain-letter type posts on Facebook where if you share a status and agree to make things for other people, someone will make something for you. Maybe I like these things because I like to test my creativity or I like to see what others will create. I have no idea. But I have done at least three or four of these, and the one for 2014 that I’m working my way through has been a lot of fun. Instead of mandating a “homemade/handmade” gift like rounds past, this particular chain requested showing others some love – with no real rules to follow other than it be something that made the other person feel seen/loved and perhaps a little surprised. Sooooo up my alley. And since “Give Love Away” by MC Yogi is one of my all-time favorite songs (kiddlets love it lots, too) discovered in yoga class, I dubbed this year’s project Operation: Give Love Away.
So far, four of my five people who agreed to post and do the same thing (and are thereby the recipients of my gifts) have received something from me. Three of the four have gotten scarves (for nursing or not) from one my beloved Etsy shops, Oliver & Lucy Designs, which is owned by the wife of a friend from college. I adore her stuff. I have a ton of her bibs and have been giving her stuff as gifts (very well received, I might add) for years. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Lincoln and have more direct access to her goods, or I’d own all of it. But since two of my people were expecting at the time, I thought nursing scarves would be a great way to show a couple mamas some beauty and love.
My own mom was another of my participants and while I totally could have given her a scarf too because she loves infinity scarves, I instead gave her a pair of my shoes. Now, before you think I’m a complete oddball, let me explain. My mom will compliment me sometimes on my shoes or my scarves and then she’ll ask, “Can I have it/them?” It’s actually a standing joke because there is a particular pair of sandals that she’s been after for years and I have never come close to budging on giving them away. I have, however, surprised her in the past by taking a scarf right off my shoulders and giving it to her, which is what I ended up doing with this project and a particularly cute pair of super-fun Keens ordered from zulily but then never really worn. I asked her if she’d still like them, and she said yes, so boom! Not the sandals she’s always wanted, but still some fun shoe love shared!
My fifth person, who possibly thinks I’ve forgotten her, will be getting some homemade – home baked, actually – goodness here in the next month or two. I’ve actually had her gift in mind since the start of summer, but time has gotten away from me a bit. Thank goodness I actually have until the end of December to get to all this!
The real lesson in this project, however, came just this week after I sent off the third infinity scarf gift plus some magnets that I made (which I learned how to do via the very first year of trying one of these Facebook chains and have recently become interested in doing again). Here’s what the present looked like:
Since you can’t really see the magnets close enough to catch detail, I’ll explain that two of them – a coffee mug and an image of two women running together – were what I described in my note as what I thought this friend and I would do together if we actually lived in the same town now, which we have not since high school. I included these images and this message because she is someone I admire a great deal, even though our primary contact in almost fifteen years has been only online. But if I could, I totally would hang out with her today.
You see, there are a handful of friends I have on Facebook who I (obviously) knew at an earlier time in my life that I look at now and think, Damn. I wish I hadn’t let being a teenager get in the way of that friendship. These women are amazing. Strong, smart, kind, awesome. I am truly honored to be a friend of each, even if it really only exists as an online acquaintance of sorts; this is why I was so excited to “give love away” to this particular friend because she is one of these women. What I didn’t anticipate was her response.
On Facebook, she tagged me in a post in which she she wrote that she’d received an amazing gift from an old friend she never thought she’d keep “after some of the worst actions a friend can take.” She then said that “Life is such a beautiful journey, forgiveness and love are some of its tokens of appreciation.”
I read that and my breath came up short in my chest. At first, I was floored because I wasn’t even sure whose actions she was talking about – her own or mine – and while I wanted so desperately to message her and say, “OMG…what did I do? I’m sorry!” I realized it didn’t matter. The parts about the keeping and the forgiveness/love – those are the points that matter. Whether it is because she’s forgiven me or I’ve forgiven her or because enough time has passed that we’ve collectively let all the things go, the point is that we’re here. We’re grown ups, and what remains is the love…the joy of knowing each other…the celebrating of who we are today as women and mamas.
Silly me. I didn’t expect this little Facebook game to bring so much profound light back to me, but of course it did, because when you take time to send love into the world, it’s without a doubt coming back to you, too. What an amazing gift.