In her own way
They said I was ungrateful, and maybe I was. But I didn't feel thankful so I couldn't express thankfulness.
She had been very generous, they said. I was being peevish and self-centered, they said. Maybe I was. But something didn't feel right. I would have gladly returned all the gifts, but they were personalized. Monogramed with my name. Useless to anyone else.
There was a wooden box, within a wooden box, within a wooden box. A neat piece of designing of three wooden boxes, one inside the other. The smallest could hold a pair of earrings. The largest could hold my chocolates. All of them were mine, they had my name, elegantly lettered on the smooth wood. There was a photo frame. Not just any old photo frame. A custom-made photo frame of some expensive metal I didn't find out more about. Again, with my name on, at the back. There was a bracelet (the kind you snap on, so that size doesn't matter) with my initials in a golden heart.
On her birthday, she gave me gifts.
On her birthday, she gave all of us gifts.
Friends received gifts. Family members received gifts. Office associates received gifts. Neighbors received gifts. The staff at the supermarket and at the bank received gifts. Everyone she knew received personalized gifts. The gifts were delivered by a chauffeur in uniform, driving a big car I didn't bother to know the name of. I call all big cars 'gas guzzler', regardless of their make.
And I couldn't be thankful for the gifts she sent with her chauffeur.
She was always too busy to take my phone calls. I hadn't spoken to her in months. She never responded to emails.
She was generous with her husband's money. She was generous with her secretary's effort. She was generous with her chauffeur's driving skills.
She wasn't generous with her own time.
"Maybe I can thank the secretary, for proofreading my name so many times," I said, grudgingly. "Or the chauffeur, for delivering the packages with such a polite bow."
"Listen, she wanted you to have something nice."
"Rubbish. She wanted to show she could afford to give me something nice. And she made damn sure I couldn't re-gift it."
"I don't believe this. You're the one who normally breathes sunshiny words. Now you're all sulky because you've got a pile of personalized gifts. And it's not even your birthday, it's hers. So it's a surprise."
"A shock, more like it."
"Listen, she must've made the list of people to give the gifts to. She thought of you then."
"She didn't. She just told her secretary to look up her contacts. It's not like she even chose the people the gifts went to."
"Anyway, you've got to thank her, for the sake of your own manners, if not for anything else."
I was persuaded to call and thank her. I got the answering machine. I left a message.
That was a while ago, she hasn't called back.
She's generous with things that aren't hers. Is that generosity?