A tale of two bouquets

Here in northern California, everything’s coming up roses.  My yard is no exception; I’m filling vases every few days.  These beauties are gracing the little Mary shrine (actually, a 1940s phone nook) in the hallway.


If only you could smell them as well as see them!   The scent is intoxicating.


This isn’t the only vase of roses in the hallway, though.  If you look really closely at the first picture,  you’ll see that there’s another tiny one, there at the base of the Mary statue.


Last December, Matthew’s elementary school had a little holiday shop on campus where kids could purchase gifts for their family and friends.   Matthew excitedly asked us for some money, so we gave him a few dollars.

“I want to tell you what I’m going to get you, Mom,” he told me in the car.

“Don’t tell me!”  I said.  “Let’s keep it a secret.  Then I can be surprised when I open it on Christmas.”

He thought about it. “No,” he said, with a smile he couldn’t hide. “I want to tell you what it is now.  I don’t want to wait.”

We went a few rounds back and forth: me, extolling the virtues of suspense and surprise; Matthew, insisting that he wanted to tell me now.  He was so excited to tell me that I finally said he could.

“It’s a vase of glass roses,” he said eagerly.  “Do you think you would like that?  I know you really like flowers.”

I told him that it sounded beautiful.  Of course I would love it.  And how thoughtful of him to remember that I love roses so much!  He beamed in the backseat.

And when he gave me the roses — the very day he bought them, because he couldn’t wait until it was Christmas — he produced a small square box from his backpack.  It was about four inches high and four inches wide; I’d envisioned something much larger.  He opened the box eagerly and I helped him take off the protective wrapping.  And there it was: the Christmas gift from my little boy, a miniscule  MADE IN CHINA bouquet of electric-pink roses.

“Do you like it?” he asked anxiously.

I hugged him and kissed his head.  “I love it,” I managed to say through the lump in my throat.  “I absolutely love it.”

When we got home, I put the roses at the base of the Mary statue.  It was winter, and I didn’t have any garden flowers of my own to put there.   But  even though it’s spring and the yard is blooming now, I haven’t moved Matthew’s roses.  I like having the two bouquets there, side by side.

One bouquet is lush and fragrant, a testament to the awesome beauty of creation.  And one is small and scentless, a testament to the earnest love of a kindergartener.  They each represent something different to me, and I like that.

But there’s only one bouquet that I will keep forever.

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