It’s the season when gifts find their way to a doorstep, an office desk or an overstuffed mailbox. The colorful bags and boxes wrapped with bright bows brighten any wintry December day; a reminder that someone is thinking of us.
But sometimes a gift comes off-season — and at an unexpected moment. Wanda Anderson remembers the gift as if it arrived yesterday.
The daffodils had disappeared and the buds on the rosebushes were finally in bloom. Lavender, pale pink, red with a dash of white filled the garden outside her window with fragrance, and a burst of color.
The richness of spring was in her first roses of the season.
The initial sight always returned Wanda to childhood memories in Southern California — a time when her hard-working brothers would delight her with an occasional rose from the commercial nursery. To this young girl — poor by some standards — those earliest flowers were a luxury, special.
Now, to have a backyard with her favorites — Peace Rose, Barbara Bush, Love Rose — was sheer enjoyment. Wanda especially loved the very first blooms.
Her husband, Dale, who devotedly tended the roses knew this, too. So, on this particular morning, he picked the first bouquet of spring, still fresh with dew. But as Dale came into the house, he was greeted by a church friend who had just stopped by.
As the woman turned to go, Dale graciously handed the first blooms to her. And even though their visitor protested, she was assured that the bouquet was hers to keep — given with pleasure.
“I told her I was happy for her to have the roses,” Wanda recalled recently, “but I really wasn’t.”
Seeing her very precious first blooms go out the door filled her with regret — and a bit of stinginess.
Throughout the rest of the morning, Wanda argued with herself, knowing logically it was “better to give than to receive.” Nevertheless, she lamented the spontaneous act.
Wanda, still heavy of heart but with errands on their “to-do” list that day, the couple headed to the post office. While Wanda waited in the car, an older woman suddenly appeared at her open window, a bouquet of multi-colored roses in her arms.
“These are for you,” she told Wanda, who was taken by surprise. “They’re my first blooms this spring.”
Choked with tears — and remorse — Wanda uttered a thank you as she bent to inhale the rich fragrance. When she glanced back up, the woman was gone.
To this day, that “special delivery” gift changed Wanda. Now, her first blooms always go to another — a reminder that “Someone” is thinking of them.