They often get the short end of the stick when it comes to drawing attention. They don't seek out visibility. They don't scream "look at me!". They are happy to just "be" and give a little bit of pleasure when they can. I kind of think they are what hold us together on days when we might otherwise crumble. Mostly they have little or no monetary value at all. Usually, they don't make us over-the-top-crazy-giddy-screaming-at-the-top-of-our-lungs happy. Rather, they touch and comfort us way deep down inside where there are no words. They calm us. Make us see clearly when we're on the brink of losing it. They save us from losing it. (I know you've been there!)
I have had a life of some really big wonderful things. But mostly, a life of a whole lot of dear, sweet, little things.
A birthday note from my son, written on an old manual typewriter--just because he knew I would love that little touch. A random text message of love in the middle of the day. A 3-year old little girl telling me I'm her best friend (as she's eating the piece of chocolate I'd just given her!) A note left on the bathroom mirror. A little piano student pausing right in the middle of his song to ask me to come to his baseball game. Holding a newborn baby duck. A midnight "nighty-night" text from my daughter. A song-sharing afternoon of music with a friend. A hot bath at the end of a long day. A gift of homemade mulberry jam from another friend. Going for an impromptu, late-night ice cream with my favorite guy. A bear hug from a grown son.
Little things. Here's why they're on my mind.
Because Miriam ate an M&M.
This, of course, makes no sense without the back story. So here it s.
For almost 15 years, there is this one thing you can always count on finding in my house. A bowl of M&Ms. Peanut. They live in a little, old bowl on a table at the end of my couch. They are colorful and happy. During the holidays they appropriately turn to the colors of the season.
Of course, eating a few of them each day is a sweet thing for sure, but more than that, I have come to love the sound of them being eaten. Actually, it isn't so much the sound of them being eaten as it is the sound of them being "taken". I can be in the kitchen and I can hear the sound of a hand reaching into the bowl--a sort dull jostling sound. It makes me smile.
Many hands have reached into that bowl over the years. Little hands. Big hands. Old, wrinkled hands. New friend's hands. Old friend's hands. American hands. Foreign hands. Rich hands. Poor hands. Happy hands. Sad hands. (Even a few non-humans that have no hands but have found other means by which to enjoy an M&M. Not to worry-- I washed and disinfected the bowl!!)
After all these years, I'm just now thinking about the importance of this little bowl of M&Ms. It is one of those little things. Sometimes, you don't even notice it's there. But it would be missed if it wasn't. I believe that in a silly, strange way it has blessed many, even if only to give just a moment of pleasure. To my kids, it says "Welcome home. We're always here for you". To first-time guests, it says "You're welcome here. Come and sit". To those who are drifting, it says "You can stay here as long as you like". To those who show up unannounced it says, "We were hoping you'd stop by." To my husband, it says "Always".
But Miriam is the one who got me thinking about this. Because she loves this bowl of M&Ms.
She came into my life through my son a few years ago. A beautiful young woman with a beautiful heart. She lives in Germany and we are blessed to enjoy extended visits with her a couple of times each year. I know this little bowl of M&Ms makes her happy in such a simple way. Last night, as we enjoyed a last visit before she returns home, I thought about that. I know these days are bittersweet days for her....excited to see her family soon, but sad to be leaving my boy. As I heard her hand reach into the M&M bowl, I thought how this tiny little thing, a bowl of M&Ms, might in some small way, give her joy as she goes. I hope it says to her, "You always have a home here. I will be sitting here, right in this same exact spot, when you come back". Comfort in the little things.
Now I'm not saying that a bright, red, shiny little Volvo in the drive with a big red bow on it wouldn't make my heart go pitter pat for a second or two. But if I had to choose between that moment and a lifetime of eating M&Ms from a little, old bowl....well, I think you know what I would do.