The gift.

I don’t remember when I started wrapping gifts in scarves.  But, for a very long time now, instead of using gift bags or wrapping paper, I much prefer to find interesting or pretty scarves in which to wrap and deliver my gifts.  

Sometimes I choose a particular scarf because it reflects something about the gift; sometimes it reminds me of the recipient.  Typically, I buy the wrapping scarves from little corner resale stores or charity shops, yard sales and church bazaars.  They’re fun to find and they add just a bit of extra presentation and value to the gift itself.

I suspect I’ve been thinking about gifts lately because we all have one rather significant one coming to us in just a few more days.  It is perhaps one of the most special gifts possible.  It is the gift of time.  One entire extra day will be added to our lives – to fill and spend and remember as we choose.  Twenty-four hours of new possibilities that didn’t exist last year, or the year before, or the year before that.  And it won’t exist again for another four years.  It’s called February 29th.  It’s rather like a gift from the universe, I suppose (and of course Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory and lots of other great thinkers and planners along the way). 

But I suspect the most important consideration about it is how we choose to spend this gift day – how we can respect it for the rare gift that it is.  

Suppose we all spent this gift day with intentionality and with mindfulness and with purpose.  Perhaps we could do just one thing this day that we’ve never done before – or perhaps we could do something that used to bring us great joy, but which we have not done in a very long time. 

I actually created a list of my own potential “one things” – and collected ideas from friends as well.  And our list grew and wandered in many directions, including such things as: donating blood, walking dogs from the shelters, rocking babies in nurseries, having a nap in the woods, taking a dance class, reading to a sick person, reading to the animals in shelters and in kennels, hot walking or just sitting with a horse, swinging on a playground, playing catch with a child, eating ice cream for breakfast, writing down wishes or prayers on tiny bits of paper and floating them on water, writing greetings to others in the earth with a stick and leaving them behind to be found anonymously, planting a new tree, reading from a holy book that is not our own, performing good deeds in secret, writing a poem or painting a picture for the trash collector or the mail carrier, watching birds, mucking out horse stalls for someone else, giving a party for strangers, writing a thank you letter to a long-ago teacher, taking a piano lesson, talking about something that frightens us, talking to someone who frightens us. 


It quickly became obvious that these “one things” to do on the extra day of life we’re being given were certainly not difficult and were mostly free and simple expressions of appreciation to others and life itself.  

And soon we began wondering – what if – just for this one day – we could all be kind to everyone, and kind to the earth.  What if we could all be at peace with each other and all things on earth.  Just for this one day.  This one day that is given to us beyond the expected parameters of time.  Just for this one day.

I suspect that such a gift should be wrapped in a very special scarf, then – a scarf of great beauty and value; or perhaps it should be plain in color and homely in fabric.  Because wrapped inside it would be not only the gift of time, but it would be filled with the very best we have to offer each other, the very best of ourselves.

And from the stroke of midnight on February 28th until the stroke of midnight on February 29th, 2024, it is ours for the unwrapping.