I knew exactly what to get my wife for Christmas. We had been wandering through the Howick market one Saturday morning and we came across a table with some really cool hanging artwork. “Oooh I like that!” she said. It was the letters A-R-O-H-A individually designed and coloured. It’s the Maori word for “love.” It did look beautiful. And I could imagine it mounted on a wall in our kitchen or dining room. I did what all clever husbands do in those moments – I stored it away for future use.
The future use came a week before Christmas. I remembered Francelle seeing it and I knew it would make the perfect Christmas gift. So on Saturday morning I made my way to the Howick market (on the pretense that I needed to get some car polish for her car, which was true), and found the table and there it was, nicely mounted on a board ready for the taking. But there was something else I had also seen on that walk so I nipped around the corner to see if I could find it. I did. “Great,” I thought to myself “this is going to be perfect!” Returning to the table and found, to my absolute dismay and horror, that a lady was busy purchasing my A-R-O-H-A letters. ‘This can’t be,’ I thought to myself.
I said to the woman behind the table, “Do you have any more of those?”
“No, I’m sorry, it’s the only one.”
I was dumb-struck. I don’t know how long I stood there – it must have been a good three minutes, with a dazed look on my face.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” she asked.
“No thank you” I finally replied, and wandered off.
I spent the next 10 minutes or so wandering from booth to booth, hoping beyond hope that I might find something that was just as good. There was nothing.
Then I heard a cheery voice behind me “Excuse me, were you the one standing beside me when I brought the Aroha letters?”
I said, “Yes, I was”
“You had that in mind for someone special didn’t you?”
“Well actually yes, my wife had spotted it some weeks back and took a real liking to it”
“I thought so – I want to sell it to you, for the same price”
“You’re kidding me,” I replied.
“Yes, I bought it for my son’s girlfriend – but she would be happy with anything. Please take it.”
I wanted to say, “Are you an angel?” (I’m not kidding).
“Are you sure?” I said.
I told her I’d be back in 2 seconds, after I grabbed some cash. I also grabbed a punnet of strawberries for her, as a thank you.
Lady, whoever you were, you did something wonderful. It was the perfect gift. If only you could see the look of surprise and delight on Francelle’s face when she opened it. It’s probably the best gift I’ve got for her for a long time.