Now that all the hullabaloo of the holidays is over and the cold grey days of winter are upon most of us, I realize, once again, that it’s the little things that matter most every day: a quiet, calm place to sit and read; a doggie nose nuzzling mine to wake me in the morning; a stunning red and gold sunset to inspire gratitude at day’s end.
Many of the things that matter to the quality of our lives are free, or of nominal cost at most: a letter or a phone call from a far-way friend, a compliment from a complete stranger, or a spontaneous hug from someone you love. Besides emotional satisfactions, some material things are oddly satisfying, as well. For example, I got several nice gifts for Christmas, including a lovely bracelet and a new phone, but the one simple little gift that has just delighted me and keeps me smiling is a silicon six-cube ice tray that makes those 2 inch square cubes that you see professional bartenders using for bourbon drinks. I first saw these cubes at a bar in the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi a couple months ago. Not being a bourbon drinker myself, I was nevertheless captivated by the advantages of their perfect size and slower melt. You see, I routinely put ice in my white wine, and now I have a 2 inch ice cube maker of my own! Still cold, less dilution. Little things ….
To a long-lasting thing… Decades ago when we were living in Connecticut and had three large show dogs, we used to buy Purina dog food in 50 lb. bags. The company had a promotion wherein you could send in the weight circle proofs of purchase for redemption for various items offered in a Purina catalog. Having moved to Connecticut from the South, I was always cold, and one of the items in that catalog was a long-sleeve, waffle-weave henley which my husband ordered for me. Along with proofs of purchase, the pullover cost all of 19 cents and it is STILL in use today. It is worn and warm and comforting, with a slightly raveling Purina “Chosen by Champions” label on the upper left. I have worn this shirt over tees and pajamas, in sickness and in health, and it appears over and over in years of family photographs. Though it is now quite threadbare and I don’t wear it out of the house anymore, it is still my favorite “schmata.” Most people would have cut it up into rags by now (which is what that Yiddish word means), but not me. Nineteen cents — you can’t beat that! Little things …
But there are some material things that are totally free. As you may recall, I am a writer, and a writer is a person who writes, a lot, all the time, and not just for publication and renumeration. I hand write cards and letters, keep all sorts of specialized notebooks, and maintain several different types of journals (travels, holidays, events, etc.) Of course, I also keep a daily personal journal (not to be confused with a diary or a calendar), which I have written in religiously every evening of my life for about as long as I can remember.
What with all this hand writing and scribbling, it goes without saying that papers and pens are of paramount importance in my daily life. While I have quite a selection of tablets, stationery, and journals, I am especially particular about my writing instruments. A pen must sit well in the hand, being neither too fat nor too thin nor too top-heavy, sort of like the perfect balance of a fine dinner fork. Except for the occasional necessity of a felt-tip, I routinely write with ballpoints, always in black and alway in medium point. And I always have a favorite pen, which goes with me from place to place every day (and which causes me to spend far too much time searching for where I left it). My favorite pen for the last several years has been one that was absolutely free!
It is a beautiful, perfectly weighted, ballpoint pen in Cape Cod blue from the Chatham Bars Inn. When we were last there, they simply gave them to guests, gratis. Of course, the pen did run out of ink after I got it home, but I found that Cross refills fit it perfectly. (Okay, so they aren’t free, but still …) I have some other preferred pens in a pinch, but this one remains my absolute favorite, not only because it was free, but because it reminds me of all those loving, lovely Thanksgiving holidays at the Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, MA. “Big” little things …
In a world obsessed with acquisitions and measured by net worth, it has become a quaint cliché to say that the best things in life are free. Certainly, some of the best things are decidedly NOT free, things like a week in Paris in a five-star hotel. For that matter, even things most of us might consider necessities, such as comprehensive healthcare or a good education, aren’t exactly free either. We probably pay for everything one way or another, but price and value don’t always equate. Nor do you always get what you pay for.
But in our quieter moments when we take the time to really consider what shapes and enhances our lives day-to-day, it is often the little things that count the most. Think about it.