I thankfully remembered this childhood love of gift receiving before my last vacation, on which I was going to see my sister's three young children. A couple of days before our trip, I popped into my favorite quirky gift store around the corner and picked up a few presents: a book for the baby, a fun drawing and ink pad for my nephew Jarlath, and a friendship bracelet kit for my niece, Lucy.
After arriving in South Carolina and saying hello to the children for the first time in over a year, I slipped them their gifts. They got excited, took a good look at them, and then ran down to the beach.
We spent all afternoon at the beach, with baby Lena crawling fearlessly into the ocean, Jarlath burying himself and others in the sand, and Lucy doing round-offs and cartwheels into the water. It was a fun, effortlessly happy day.
When we decided to retire from the hot sun and salty water, the kids fell into playing with their newly acquired toys. Lena flipped, slapped, and threw her book in between visiting with family. Jarlath managed to cover himself in the ink from his drawing pad (I secretly knew it was a bad idea when I bought it). Lucy busted out her friendship bracelet kit and started twisting threads together with Garrett's cousin and bracelet making extraordinaire, Meggan.
Lucy made matching bracelets for herself and Meggan first before taking orders from others. I asked her to make me one, and when she told me not to pick the same colors that she and Meggan had, I begrudgingly complied. When they completed my friendship bracelet, Lucy walked over to tie it around my wrist.
"Do you want me to tie it so you can take it off, or do you want to wear it forever?" she asked, looking into my eyes expectantly.
"Forever," I answered, with a nod of my head.
Lucy continued to make friendship bracelets with Meggan for everybody in the room. And when I say everybody, I mean: her brother, father, mother, my dad, Garrett, Garrett's mom, Garrett's dad, Garrett's brother Patrick, Meggan's husband TJ, and Meggan's parents, George and Laurie. Without fail, upon delivery of every friendship bracelet, Lucy very seriously asked her very serious question of whether or not you wanted to be able to take the bracelet off (not the correct answer) or wear it forever.
I think everybody chose to wear theirs forever.
Later on in the week, after the children had returned home, it filled me with so much happiness to look around the room and see everybody wearing their friendship bracelets. The bracelets seemed so out of character for many of the group, yet nobody paid them mind or, better yet, broke their pact to wear them forever.
Two weeks later, mine is still going strong.