It was one of the most life changing experiences of my young military spouse life: I opened my front door to get the mail and there, sitting on my porch, was a beautifully wrapped pie plate full of all the things to make a gloomy day sparkle with the warm fuzzy feelings you get when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you – some knick-knacks, a few goodies, a new book …
And no note.
In the midst of what was a very difficult deployment, that anonymous gift struck me right in my soul. Someone went to what was obviously considerable expense and care to do something nice for me. Me! Whoever left it knew what a hard time I was having. And they knew just what I needed.
So I promised myself that I would pay it forward – maybe not always anonymously and usually not with anything expensive, but always with something unexpected.
Last week I delivered on that. A good friend living far away just said a difficult good-bye to her Marine. And what makes hard goodbyes better? Truffles, obviously. So I nabbed a good Groupon, ordered some truffles and waited for her to get them.
I chose to attach my name to this one – because we are such friends that I know a chocolate hug would mean more coming from someone she knows. But anonymous would’ve worked, too.
In my mind Valentine’s Day – especially if you’re celebrating solo -- is the perfect time to make a habit of unexpected gift gifting. Your friend feels awesome because someone is thinking about them, and you get the warm fuzzy feelings brought by doing something kind for someone else. But even if you’re not going to use this most mushy of days to start this project, here’s a few secret gift giving ideas to get you started:
Give a gift to someone you barely know. The truffles I sent my Marine Corps friend meant so much to her that she decided to give a secret gift to a local deployed National Guard spouse she knows in passing. This is the perfect time for anonymous gift. If it’s perishable make sure they are not going to be out of town. Otherwise, just leave it on their doorstep. Don’t even bother with the bell.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. A plate of their favorite cookies may be just what they need to know that someone was thinking about them. Even a greeting card with a kind note may do the trick.
Gift from a distance. You don’t have to live near someone to give them a gift that says “I support you.” Flowers, mail order chocolates or even a $5 Starbucks gift card popped in the mail all would be perfect. You always hear about anonymous hate mail (and I’ve even received some before). What about anonymous support mail?