Interestingly enough, today's post won't be about Latrice - at least not directly.
Today's post will be a short tale of what it means to live the Spirit of 218. Newcomers to our community won't already know that, Spirit of 218 is the phrase Highlowaha readers use to describe the joy of making time for life's simple pleasures.
It didn't take long after learning of Latrice's departure that Matthew and I decided that an unfinished class project from last winter would be the perfect going away present for her.
Hot air balloon with barely one layer of paper mache applied. The recipe for paper mache, by the way, is simply flour and water (and strips of newspaper).
Tissue paper rolled into small balls and adhered to the balloon by dabbing each ball into Elmers Glue.
The hot air balloon is topped off with a basket holding a gift card Latrice can use to help her family get settled in their California digs.
Here's where Gift of 218 comes in. I ate lunch with a friend the other day and I was so excited about the project Matthew and I were working on, I couldn't help tell her about it. She immediately rolled her eyes in a lovingly way and said, "Claudia, why do you do this stuff to yourself. Do what ever other mother will do. Buy Ms. Latrice a present, put it in a gift bag, and be done with it."
She challenged me to think about why I busy my life with projects that are clearly unnecessary and how much more simple my days would be if I didn't "go overboard."
All at once I blurted out my defense and I'll be dammed if the conviction and clarity of my explanation didn't even surprise me! Here's what I said.
Getting the time to work side by side with Matthew on a project like this is EXACTLY what life is about. It is the Gift of 218 personified. Not only do we get to sit on the garage floor getting dirty while paper maching, but we also worked together rolling tissue paper, deciding on a design, and brainstorming from what we could make the basket.
BUT even more importantly... the two of us talked. I got quiet time to instill in Matthew my beliefs about the importance of thanking people who are good to us and the thoughtfulness involved in giving a handmade gift. We spent time talking about all the reasons we were appreciative for Latrice and what he thinks he'll miss most about her. He got to participate in a creative activity - not just hear me talk about the importance of being creative and using our imaginations.
Those lifelong lessons of gratitude, generosity, and creativity were worth every bit of the four hours we worked on Latrice's present this month.
To the outside world what Latrice will receive from Matthew is a finally finished paper mache hot air balloon, with a basket and a small treat inside. What I know, and what you now know, is that Ms. Latrice is actually receiving the Gift of 218. And, as is the case with the Gift of 218, the real recipient is actually the gift giver.
So thank you, Latrice. Thank you for being so good to my son over the past year and a half. Thank you for loving him, teaching him about the globe, the importance of drinking water, and letters of the alphabet. Thank you for choosing him be Rug Captain, feeding his interest in books, and reminding him to wash his hands after going to the bathroom.
But also, thank you for inspiring us to forgo a quick run through of our local mall in search of the quick and easy present. Instead, thank you, Latrice for the Gift of 218!
We will miss you.
Signing off until tomorrow...