Harper Lee — the famously private author, might never have written the classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” if it hadn’t been for a 1950s Christmas gift.
Back in 1956, Lee was a ticket agent for British Overseas Airways Corporation. Like most struggling writers, she was having trouble balancing her job and finding time to write. She told this to her New York City friends, Michael and Joy Brown (who were also friends of Truman Capote).
Michael was a successful “industrial musical writer” whom American corporations hired to create performances to inspire their workers. His clients ranged from DuPont to JC Penney, and he was raking in the money for songs like “The Wonderful World of Chemistry.”
So in 1956, the Browns’ gave Lee the best Christmas present of all: An entire year’s salary so she could take time to write whatever she wanted. “There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me. I opened it and read: ‘You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas,'” she wrote in McCall’s Magazine in 1961. “ They assured me that it was not some sort of joke. They’d had a good year, they said. They’d saved some money and thought it was high time they did something about me.”
Lee took that time to write “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which sold over 40 million copies worldwide, has been translated into over 40 languages, served as the basis for a hugely popular film, and for which she won a Pulitzer Prize.
“when life gives you a gift, receive it with all your heart.”
credits: Megan Willett-Wei, Insider
i wonder if when he looked at the shape, he guessed this was a basketball, even before opening it.
“each new day has a different shape to it. you just roll with it.”
what child wouldn’t put this on their holiday wish list?
“it is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded.”
credits: Rogue NASA, Weird History
this tiny dog
has lived a full life
gifted to me by my dear friend
her husband’s mother/grandmother
i would love to know its story
it has seen the world and is beautifully imperfect.
“art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.”
~ Anni Albers
try as he might
my colleague was not able to convince anyone
to steal from him
or trade with him
for this monstrosity of a white elephant gift
that he randomly chose
at our faculty holiday party
it was as huge as a shield, very heavy, and not the most beautiful
(even said on the back that it was microwaveable,
but would not come anywhere near fitting
into any microwave i’ve ever seen,
and was edged in metal)
but we did laugh about it the entire time
and that is certainly worth something.
‘the manner of giving is worth more than the gift.’
i held this gift of a tiny origami star
made from a square of beautiful paper
admiring it in my hand for a time
knowing it will be held in my memory
for a long time to come.
“WHEN YOU FOLD A PIECE OF PAPER,
YOU’RE ESSENTIALLY CHANGING THE MEMORY OF THAT PIECE”.
for a wonderful surprise
from two of my friends
who gave me their set of original golden books
something i have always wanted
since i was a young child.
they knew i would treasure them.
“life is always bringing unexpected gifts.”
apparently i have a bit of a reputation for opening my gifts early.
how bad is it when my sister thinks
i may get overexcited
and try to intercept a delivery at the post office?
i’m not worried, she’ll never know…
p.s. if she happens to be reading this,
i’d just like to say for the record
that it was already a little bit open when i found it.
what a lovely afternoon spent
with a family whose three daughters
each of us have taught and loved in our turn over the years
as they gave thanks to all of their teachers
by cooking and serving us an amazing brunch
at a beautiful table
complete with many homemade delights
main courses, sweets, desserts, coffee, and fruit prosecos
dad and daughters prepare our meal
while mom finalizes the drinks and details in the dining room
such an amazing and generous gesture
as their last daughter leaves the familiar comfort
of our elementary school
and moves on to her next chapter
in the middle school division
along with her lovely family
who we will miss
and who have taught their daughters
the wisdom of gratitude and kindness.
“what wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”