lenten journal: marking time


    The time clock at the Inn measures the hours by decimals rather than minutes. When I punched out I had worked 12.12 hours, the same numbers as my birthday, 12/12. Chef shares my birthday as well, along with Frank Sinatra and Dionne Warwick.

    3/3, one quarter of 12/12, is also a significant day for me because it is The Day of Gifts for No Reason. Unless you read my writing last year, it may not be a day you are aware of. Actually, it is, shall we say, a niche holiday, being significant only to Ginger and to me. And it’s not much of a holiday. I still had to work twelve hours.

    Though Ginger and I had only been dating a short time, by the time March 3, 1989 rolled around, I was completely amazed that she was in my life. That year, like this one, March 3 fell on a Saturday. When I showed up to pick her up for our date, I had some flowers, a CD, and a theology book. The card I gave her said something like, “I’ve never dated anyone I could give flowers, a CD, and a theology book.” (Pretty good, huh?) I’ve given her those three things every year – except the one I forgot. This year, the book was The Faith Club, the CD was Colorblind by Robert Randolph and the Family Band (the man does serious things with a steel guitar), and, since I’ve worked twenty four hours in the last forty eight, the flowers are coming tomorrow.

    The first time I did it, I was simply responding to the wonder in my heart. I wasn’t trying to start a tradition or to make a grand gesture. My actions expressed the joy of my astonishment: I was dating an amazing woman and finding resonance in ways I never imagined possible. It was the year I forgot – which was three or four years on — that I think sealed it as a Red Letter Day in our marriage. I remember going to bed that night and realizing something was bothering her. I pressed her to tell me and all she said was, “It’s March Third.”

    My heart sank, not out of guilt as much as watching the opportunity to let her know I love her in a way that she really hears and feels it fly out the window. I missed my chance and there was no getting it back. I didn’t try. I didn’t go out and buy something on March 4. I realized that night what mattered was not the gifts as much as reaffirming the resonance we both felt so early on. I’m still as full of wonder and gratitude that I get to be with her this year as I was eighteen years ago. No, more.



    1. Milton,

      I love reading when you write about your love for Ginger. It’s a beautiful thing. And I suspect it would be just as beautiful if she were writing about her love for you. This is what real love is.

    2. Milton,
      You are indeed a gifted and enlightened man. A rare thing in my experience. And I suspect you are as lucky as your wife…..she sounds like someone I could hang with. Reminds me of my friend Peter who still celebrates his “Kissaversary” with his wife, who was also his high school sweetheart more than 30 years ago. Gives an old cynic about such things a warm fuzzy. Thanks for sharing.

    3. I love that you and Ginger have made your own tradition. It’s authentic. More so than the “regular” gift giving holidays of Valentine’s and Christmas.

      The best part of your gift giving is that it is shared. You both obviously adore each other.

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