Thursday 24 December 2015

The Best Gifts are the Ones that Are Unexpected

Last summer, I was looking through a box of old family pictures. It was like opening a treasure trunk full of artifacts of my past. 

The mystery was enhanced by many of the pictures being captured on two inch by two inch slides that needed to be converted to digital images to be fully appreciated. As they were being reformatted, moments in time literally appeared before my eyes. 

For the first seven years of my life, we lived in a small bungalow. My parents had bought a plot in a new subdivision called Rexdale, the first 'bedroom community' of Toronto. New home owners were flocking to this converted farm land because the price was affordable and new highways made commuting to city jobs manageable.

My dad had captured every phase of construction in photos and letters to his parents. Looking at these records, I realized that their new house became a symbol of their hopes and dreams of the future. Each brick laid represented one step closer to the next stage in their lives.

Since this house still exists, I thought the current owners might be interested in discovering the origins of their home. They might even be a young couple like my parents. I decided to create a visual narrative of the building of and early years of living in their home. It would be my unexpected holiday gift from a stranger.

On Tuesday, I created my PowerPoint presentation of the first thirteen years of their home. On Wednesday, I rang their doorbell with my gift in hand.

A friendly woman opened the door. She was on a Skype call and motioned that she would be with me in a second. As I was waiting, I peered inside her home, noting the kitchen wall that had been removed and the other renovations that had taken place. Where was the fireplace?

We had a great conversation. My first home had been converted into two apartments. This woman was visiting her son from Bogota, Colombia and had signed a six-month lease. She told me about her family and I took her through my presentation. 

The main theme of our conversation was the importance of family. Family ties throughout our lives are paramount and help define who we are. Also, everyone has their own PowerPoint presentation about their beginnings and how they have shaped their lives. 

My new acquaintance said she would give my gift to the home owners. We exchanged Christmas wishes for our families and shared a warm handshake. 

As I descended the front steps (for the first time in four plus decades), I realized that she had given me the gift of appreciation. Unexpected gifts are the best, whether you give or receive them.

All the best for the holiday season!

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