It was my first Christmas in Toronto. I had a few new friends, acquaintances and colleagues. I had no idea what to expect. There was the occasional bottle of wine gifted my way, cards left at my doorstep and the one totally unexpected gift from Solveiga, my new Toronto friend with a wonderful sense of humour that I was learning very quickly, has no boundaries.
Her gift was a usual holiday themed bag with tissue paper reaching out from the top. I tucked it next to our little 2-foot tree. What was inside was anything but usual. On Christmas morning, I pulled the bulging bundle out of the Christmas bag. A black string fell from the tissue paper. What was this? I pulled the wrapping from around it and it looked like pink pajamas – no, napkins – no, black tea towels. Then it fell open from its neat little folds. Gasp! It was a little black apron with layers of bright pink, pock-a-dot ruffles trimmed in black lace and a jeweled Eiffel Tower in the centre.
It’s the kind of gift that really should be opened in the presence of the giver for the goal here is really the reaction of the receiver more than the practical or decadent nature of the gift. It’s the kind of gift, especially from a new, mostly unfamiliar friend that has your mind racing for answers. Is she serious? Is this a joke? Am I expected to wear this in the kitchen – or in the bedroom? Or both? How do I thank her for the thought? Whatever the though may be.
I held it up and my husband began to howl and egged my to put it on. I probably would have if I could have stopped laughing long enough. So how do I describe it? Bright pink and black with jewels and lace; a little bit of kitsch, a little bit of gaud, a little trashy and a little cheesy. My son came out from the other room to see what the commotion was. He took one look at the apron I was now wearing and his eyes rolled back into his head. He turned and walked back to where he came. I put it down and Christmas got on as all good Christmases should, calling your loved ones who are too far away to be present.
Tracy, my dearest friend from St Marys laughed along with me at the mere description of the bright apron that begged to be humiliated. “It’s for the bedroom (you idiot), you’re supposed to wear it in the nude,” she laughed. I was beginning to realize it’s no such thing. It’s a gift that keeps giving great joy to all who see it, to all whose attention is drawn to it and to all who laugh at it.
It was a few short weeks later when I was packing for a weekend away with Tracy that the idea came to me. I ran to the pantry and took the apron from the hook that held all of my other aprons (ok, where else was I going to put it?) That evening I pulled it out of my bag, she put it on over top of her pajamas and paraded around the room. We howled and joked, invented racy scripts and mimicked culinary scenarios. Once again, the cheesy little apron was bringing great joy.
The next morning we were meeting our friend, Gwendelyn for breakfast. Unfortunately, everyone got their wires crossed and a few hours later, we did eventually linked up. Gwendelyn was nothing short of cross and unamused. What to do? Tracy and I looked at each other and with that wicked little smirk, she reached into the back of the car and grabbed the apron. We went into On The Front Cafe in Thorold and snuggled in front of the fireplace to wait for Gwen.
When Gwen finally arrived and we gave her the few minutes she needed to vent. We gave her the bag. To my surprise (and Tracy too), the magical little apron had a completely different affect on Gwen – she loved it! She immediately put it on and paraded around the coffee shop. What to do? We thought it was a tacky little gift that pulled out the worst caddy nature in us women and instead, it was adored and appreciated. What does this say about our friend? Or us?
The hour-long conversation that followed was filled with tender moments, lots of healing and a fist full of belly laughs. It was modeled, laughed at and the topic of multiple made-up stories, some just plain hilarious and others filthy and racy.
The little apron was bigger than all of us and it needed to be shared. From this day forward, the apron must go from friend to friend, infecting everyone with joy. It’s
From Solveiga’s whim of a purchase one December day, to me, to Tracy to Gwen, I’ll keep you posted on where the apron goes next and continue the story of the travelling apron.