A Birthday Gift for My Daughter by Pam Roberts

Pam Roberts leads Spirit of the Written Word writing workshops for people affected by cancer and for the general population. A writer, artist, and certified yoga instructor, she lives in Franklin County. She just renewed her membership to Straw Dog Writers.  www.pamroberts.net

A Birthday Gift for My Daughter

My daughter’s birthday has snuck up on me. I’ve got to mail a gift to her this morning.

We’re often together on her birthday, especially since her brother died three years ago. I usually offer her small treats: lip gloss, fragrant bath salts, or her favorite dark chocolate. This year, mid-coronavirus, I shop at home. 

I prowl my house for easy-to-mail items.

In my catch-all office drawer, there’s an unopened pack of multi-colored gel pens, and below that, a small Moleskin notebook. Colored pens are fun, and Victoria likes these notebooks for dance teaching notes. Rummaging under address labels and paper clips, I find a square package of origami paper. Origami might be a suitable distraction for three young adults staying home in a Brooklyn apartment. And what about that sheet of stickers of NYC taxis and the Statue of Liberty? I’ll include a note: “to remind you of sights you are not seeing …” 

Earlier I pulled a pale blue bandana from among my scarves, because Victoria makes facemasks from them for her infrequent outings. In my last curbside-pickup grocery order came a Hu chocolate bar.

  I assemble everything on the kitchen table, grabbing a nearby packet of crimson zinnia seeds, rerouting its destination from my country garden to her city plot. I fold the bandana with two hair elastics for earpieces, and wrap it in white tissue paper from a clothing purchase in the time-before-staying-home, when I cared about how I clothed my body. A recent solicitation’s colorful map of the world becomes wrapping for everything else. Except the chocolate bar, which is tucked into delicate bubble wrap from another delivery.

I eyeball these wrapped gifts. Something padded is called for. Back upstairs my office disgorges a large padded envelope. Clearly too big, it’s my only option. I slip the goods in, and cut the open edge to make it smaller. It all gets closed up with leopard skin patterned duct tape from my tool basket.

Can I avoid the post office? I have stamps, having just received my first online order. But how to determine the postage amount? I remember a package from yesterday’s mail, and hold it in one hand and the gift in the other. Pretty close. Out comes its time-stamped envelope from recycling: $8.02.

I affix stamps to my duct-taped envelope, starting with leftover Christmas wreath stamps, then move on to large, colorful Woodstock commemoratives with white doves. After ten stamps, a large swath of envelope is covered. What is a first-class stamp worth now, anyway? 50 cents? 52? With no time to dally I press on six more white doves. 16 times .50 equals $8.00. I add one more for good measure.

The smell of lilacs greets me as I open the door, nudge the black metal mailbox lid up with my elbow and drop the package in. The carrier is rounding the corner. Happy birthday, Victoria!