I took my Christmas package to the post office and because the box held books and hand towels and inexpensive ornaments, I didn’t take out extra insurance.
Later I emailed my daughter that I’d put a few small gifts in the mail and practically found myself apologizing before bringing myself up short. Really? I’d chosen these books carefully, bowled over by the cascade of words on each page. Words that gave me insight, laughter, relaxation, suspense.
Each book represented, I knew by experience, a year or more of work by a person somewhere who has labored to put something of value together. Something that can be shared over space and time with another person. There’s nothing, as Carl Sagan once said, more like real magic than a book.
So I stopped myself short of apologizing for the “smallness” of my gifts, rueful that I’ve almost turned into one of those adults Antoine de Saint-Exupery warned us about through The Little Prince–the price tag will tell us “grownups” how wonderful or beautiful something is. How much value it holds.
In fact, the more I thought about it, fingers poised above the keyboard, the more I had to resist adding a p.s. Open your Christmas package very, very carefully, I wanted to say. There are books inside.