I’m staying at my mom’s house tonight.  We are planning to head off at 5:00 AM on a 15-hour road trip to see my brother in North Carolina.  That will mean getting up at 3:30.  But at the moment, I am waiting for laundry to finish.  And writing.

Earlier this evening, we took her husband’s jeep out for a spin, to keep it up to snuff while he is serving another tour in Iraq.  Even close to 8:00 PM, it was 85 degrees outside.  So, rather than just ride around, we used it as an excuse to get an ice cream.  Here I was at the drive-thru, a full-grown adult with my full-grown adult mom, ordering two soft-serve vanilla cones in a monster truck.  Gotta love it.

As we drove away, taking the first licks from our ice creams, I thanked her (she paid the $2.14) and said, “Driving out for an ice cream cone—it sure brings back memories.”  And it did.  Honestly, to this day, I still treat myself to ice cream cones just for the nostalgia.  And because I can.  Since I was a kid, I’ve never gotten over the thrill that I can go out anytime I want and buy an ice cream cone with my own money!  Life is good.

The ice cream excursion brought back another memory.  My friend Dib’s son, Sam, was five or six at the time.  It was a hot and sticky summer day, and Sam was wilting.  His freckled face was all flushed and sweat beaded his forehead under his copper curls.  Sam was always a nervous fellow, and so it was with timidity that he approached his mom and asked with many a pause, “Um … mom … um … do you think I could … well … maybe have a Popsicle?”  In my mind’s eye, he looks as if he’s asked for a million dollars instead of a mere frozen treat.   Dib gave him an appraising look, with narrowed eyes and a finger thoughtfully tapping her chin.  Sam wilted all the more.  Then she delivered her verdict:  “You know what?  I think you should probably have two Popsicles.”  A wide grin took over Sam’s shy face and his nostrils flared.  It was all very Charlie Brown.  He felt like two million dollars.

Even the smallest of gifts do wonders for the soul.  By their very nature, they say, “You are important to me.”

I have found that the best gifts are the simple ones.  Dib and I have taken to calling these little thoughtful, impromptu or creative gifts “treats.”  Treats don’t have to cost much, if anything at all.  Here are some treats I’ve received and cherished:

A smooth beach stone with a ring around it (which my friends call “ring rocks”).

Sea glass.

A retro gym T-shirt from the $5.00 clearance rack.

An iced coffee, just the way I like it.

A framed montage of all the ticket stubs from movies a friend and I had seen together.

Coupons to an eatery I frequent.

Coins from a trip abroad.

A timely fried egg sandwich on toasted, buttermilk bread.

A car full of balloons, each with a hand-written note inside.

A used ottoman with a sticky note tacked to it, containing the words “my love” (don’t ask).

Recent treats I have given have included a tulip, a book I enjoyed, a doughnut, a poem, and exfoliating scrub.  It’s truly an endless list of possibilities.

And the thing about treats is—they don’t require any reason at all beyond “You were on my mind,” making them yet another fun and easy way to create others-centered moments.

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