There’s a tradition in my wife’s family of exchanging handwritten wish lists in the days following Thanksgiving. In recent years, some of these have may have morphed into laser-printed copies, but the spirit of the tradition continues. I’ll admit to being someone uncomfortable in the first few years of our marriage, providing a list of things I wanted. It seemed a bit selfish, but I soon realized how helpful it is around the holidays to have a list of things that people actually want or need, rather than trying to guess the perfect gift. The wish lists always serve as guidelines rather than rules, and more often than not, the very last item on each is always surprises — whether specifically enumerated or not.
This year, my list continued a several-year trend of revolving around my activities in the garden. I listed a few books I’d like to add to my horticultural library, technical references like Adams, Early and Bamford’s Principles of Horticulture or more whimsical works like Scott Calhoun’s Chasing Wildflowers. Tools such as rain gauges, a utility cart and more light fixtures for my indoor growing area also made their way onto this year’s list.
I’ve never before put plants on my list because it’s hard to get excited about herbaceous perennials when the ground is frozen and covered in snow. But this year, I added a few daylilies (‘Storm of the Century’, ‘Christmas Carol’ and ‘Chicago Apache’), a Hosta (‘T-Rex’), and Helenium ‘Red Jewel’ with the thought that I could unwrap a promise of spring delivery of new additions to my garden.
As much as I’ll enjoy any of these items on my list, I look forward to the understood surprises that live unwritten at the bottom of my wish list. They are often things that I’ve marveled at throughout the year, noticed by family members and friends, but that have escaped my memory this time of year. The gifts that fall under the umbrella of surprises are always those that help remind us that the people in our lives are paying attention and thinking of us throughout the year.
Sometimes these surprises come when you least expect it. I met my wife and son at the doctor’s office this afternoon for an appointment related to my son’s ankle injury. They both had a smile in their eyes when they told me of a box that came via FedEx this afternoon that was marked with warnings to avoid excessive cold and heat. When we got home, I immediately went to the kitchen where a box from Costa Farms sat in the middle of the floor. I tore into it like a kid on Christmas morning, revealing a small Norfolk Island Pine decorated with Christmas ornaments along with a holiday greeting card from Melissa Arteaga-Marti, the Communications Manager for Costa Farms.
This generous greeting from the growers at Costa Farms was a very pleasant surprise…the kind that makes me look forward to the bottom of my wishlist.