Dear Miriam | Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

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Dear Miriam,

After I shared the details of a recent difficult breakup, one of my neighbors gave me a box of chocolates. It was very kind of him, but the chocolates aren’t kosher, and I won’t eat them. Normally, I’d use my neighborhood Facebook group to give away something like this, but I don’t want my neighbor to see it and think I’m not appreciative. What else could I do with them?

Signed,


Respectful Recipient

Dear Respectful,

During the pandemic, people have found a variety of ways to connect, reach out and show people they care, and your letter is a great reminder of this. Your neighbor gave you the gift of listening, which sounds incredibly valuable. On top of that, he gave you an additional gift of chocolate, which shows an extra level of thoughtfulness and generosity.

Both are gestures of caring, just in different forms, and if you see them as gestures rather than material gifts, what happens to the chocolate doesn’t matter so much.

If your neighbor is definitely in the same Facebook group, you’re correct not to post the chocolates there, which might make you seem ungrateful. But regifting them to someone else should be relatively easy. Perhaps another neighbor a few doors away would like them. You could also bring them with you on a walk and give them to someone you pass or someone asking for food. A handoff can be done in a COVID-safe way, and you’ll have the chocolates out of your kitchen.

At this time of year, there’s a good chance that the chocolates were a gift to your neighbor, and you were already the recipient of a regift. That doesn’t detract from the kindness of it, but it does mean you can give yourself a break. The gift was meant to make you feel better, not to add more stress to your life. If you throw them away, nothing bad will happen, and the care you felt from your neighbor is longer lasting than the candy would have been even if they were kosher.

Whether or not you pass along this particular gift, you can remember what it felt like to receive both the listening and the candy. When you’re able, you can strive to provide a similar “gift” to someone else going through a difficult time. Whether it’s food or time, a text or card or offering to pick something up from the store, we are all in need of connection and caring. Your neighbor provided both and, in this case, it’s truly the thought that counts.

Be well,

Miriam

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