Finding the Gifts

OK, I admit it. I am an incorrigible optimist. My continuing belief is that not only is the glass half full, there’s someone around the next corner with a pitcher, waiting to fill it up the rest of the way.

Which is not always an easy attitude for people around you.

My most recent example: I had plans to spend the weekend with my son who lives in another city. My husband, John, figured he would be bored while I was away, and decided he would visit some dealerships to check out possible replacements for his 2008 sedan. The car’s warranty would be expiring soon and, frankly, he’s never really liked it.

Off I went to the airport; off he went to test-drive a sportier model he had found online the night before: a 2012 prematurely off its lease that had been driven only 15,000 miles. It was a beauty, small enough to fit in the garage, peppy and immaculate. As my flight was delayed and delayed and (after five hours of waiting at the gate) finally cancelled, John called and texted to keep me posted on his progress. He loved the car, but no one at the dealership seemed very interested in making a deal. “If you don’t buy this, someone else will,” the salesman informed him. “In fact, there’s a guy driving up from San Diego who’s really interested. “


After several hours of attempted haggling, my beloved went home, muttering to himself. Two more hours went by, and he finally decided that he really did want the car—had to have it, in fact—and never mind the deal. Back he went to the dealership.

As he arrived, a giant “Sold” sign was going up on the windshield. Turns out there really was a guy from San Diego.

John came home fuming and disappointed. After fetching me back from the airport, he was not much in the mood to hear me chime in with, “If it didn’t work out, it must not have been your car. There must be a better one that’s waiting for you.”

That night, unable to sleep, he spent another three hours online. Victory! The same make and model with similar low mileage was at a dealership around an hour away. The next day, my flight having been cancelled yet again, I went with him to check out the latest possibility.

Car #2 had been put aside for us in a remote lot. We rode over to see it in one of the dealership’s loaner vehicles, a 2013, even more impressive than the model John had been looking at and “very aggressively priced,” said the saleswoman. And… with only 12,000 miles. We loved the ride, the color, the comfort, everything about it. Another few hours and it was ours.

Car #3 wasn’t what John thought he wanted when he set out. Hadn’t even considered it. But it was everything he really wanted--which he never would have known if car#1 had still been available.

Which made me think, not for the first time: how often do we get furious at being deprived of something… when something much better is actually waiting for us around the next corner?

How often is that pitcher of water so tantalizingly close…and we just haven’t gotten there yet?