The jar of hearts
I stopped celebrating my birthday when I reached the age of 15.
People have asked me why, but there is no particular answer. Maybe it is because I don’t like the attention that is given only to me. Maybe, I am too lazy to organize a party. Maybe, because I personally don’t enjoy my birthdays so much. Or maybe it’s because I like giving more than receiving.
I remember, when I was a child, I crafted lots of presents for my parents. But because they worked so hard all their lives, they have become somewhat pragmatic individuals. Whenever I brought self painted pictures or craftings home, they would tell me that those were useless things. They often didn’t even look at my presents, and would put my them to a place in the house with all the things that weren’t needed, and eventually those ended up in the trash bin soon enough.
Back in the days, we didn’t have Instagram or Facebook, but when I visited my friends’ houses, I clearly saw that their parents hung their children’s paintings on the walls on Mother’s Day or Christmas or whatever event. Some of them even had a huge A3 folder to collect all their children’s artwork and presents. Their humble bragging saddened me. Well, it was nothing dramatic, but it did hurt a bit back then.
So when I grew up, I stopped doing handmade things. And I stopped giving presents. The only person I brought little gifts once in a while was my brother. He is ten years younger than me, and always enjoyed me getting something for him.
Fast forward, I had given up the pleasure of gifting until the day I met Huy, my husband and best friend.
We started off with a long distance relationship. Between continents. 5000km away from each other. Seven hours of flying and many Skype phone calls in between.
Three days after we met for the first time, Huy emigrated to Dubai while I was still in Germany. Weeks later we decided to give ourselves a chance. The only thing we could do back then was writing E-mails, connecting through Facebook and sending each other packages with goodies and letters.
We would write hour long letters... and every time an E-Mail popped up on our screen, it felt like a long awaited present. During our first years, we rarely saw each other. But whenever we met, we made the best time out of it. We would travel to so many countries and places in the shortest time. We were definitely collecting memories together, and we never had a chance to chill and cuddle on the sofa like other couples.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed is keeping those memories Huy and I collected. Whenever I had the chance, I made him a present out of the memories that we have. Be it a photo album or a board game. I had thousands of ideas! And, I was a poor student anyway, so this was also the most logical way of gifting.
The best part of making these gifts is that I was the one who benefited more in the end: I always ended up being so happy because Huy always treasured my handmade presents so much. Because he is happy, I am even happier!
So even after almost 14 years together as best friends, partners, lovers and family, he still enjoys my handmade presents so much. They are actually not of any practical use, but you can keep them. Forever. You can always take them out and enjoy them all over again. That is the most awesome part of it. That is so fulfilling! And because I know that he enjoys my self crafted presents, I started to take pleasure in gifting again and forgot about the discouraging memories that I had during my childhood.
I still don’t celebrate my birthdays. I haven’t done so for the last 20 plus years. But at home, I celebrate my family all the time. For this year, I thought of a jar of hearts for Huy‘s birthday.
In today’s world where everything is so digital and fast moving, I miss the idea of writing letters and cards like we used to do in the old days. Even when Huy and I started off our relationship, we sent each other packages with cards and letters all the time. It was definitely more costly and time consuming, but every single penny and effort were worth it.
When I thought of a jar of hearts, I was sure, it should not only hold my heart, but all the hearts and love from Huy‘s friends as well.
Huy is a person with a very kind heart. He is very sincere and truthful. That’s why, wherever he goes, he is able to meet a lot of good friends. Some friendships are over 37 years old, and still ardent and heartfelt. Some are shorter, but friendship doesn’t always need time to grow, does it?
But because Huy’s friends are spread all over the world, and all of them probably don’t have the chance to write letters in a short period of time, I helped them writing down their words for Huy. Of course secretly. How could it be a surprise present otherwise?
So I went out there and searched for all sorts of origami papers because I wanted to dedicate an individual color to each of his friends. Everyone is unique. Thus, they deserve their own color.
After some days of searching for papers, I finally could sit down, wrote all the messages I received and folded them into origami hearts. It felt like writing a short novel. I received more than 60 letters after all. Now they were ready to be put into a jar. The jar of hearts.
The messages I received were amazing. Some were as long as two A4 pages. I haven’t written so much by hand for a long time! I had the pleasure to write down some really awesome insider jokes that I didn’t fully understand but they still cracked me up. Life long wisdoms, emotional confessions, and even an invitation to a football game were given to Huy. Some other were filled with funny memories that made me envious of Huy because I wanted to have a friendship with those memories too! There was a letter of a 20 year old story about a life threatening encounter with the French coke dealers from Biarritz. It was one of funniest stories I heard in my entire life. It could be an idiom to beg to be filmed!
Each and every letter to Huy was spectacular! They were unique! Beautiful! They were pure fun and love at the same time!
I can see so much love from Huy’s friends inside those hearts. Their love comes in so many different facades. And all of them made me speechless. This is not my present alone, but it belongs to all those who supported this idea as well.
Thanks dear friends for the love you have! Thanks for making this jar of hearts with me. I am sure that each and everyone of Huy’s friends who wrote him a message was happy to make him happy. And the same goes for me. If Huy is happy, I am happier.
When you receive a present, you alone feel the pleasure. But the feeling of giving goes beyond that: You are contented because you make someone contented. You smile because you make someone smile. You are happy because you make someone happy.
You appreciate the appreciation. Because giving is the only thing that makes you gain something at the same time. Because giving is receiving.