The Red Box: When Life is Delicious

Have you ever come home to a red box? Thursday night I climbed Mt. Muchmore returning at 6pm on a dreary night. Through the grey February blah, my eyes quickly fixed on a large, red, rectangular box resting against the house. And, the adventure began.

A red box! My mental register is calculating. I’ve ordered nothing. My birthday is over 6 weeks away. I haven’t received a Valentine in years and have no reason to expect a change this February 14. Phone books come in plastic wrappers. I never win things. Judy is the only one who sends unexpected packages. But somehow this doesn’t look like a Judy box. What is this and who sent it?! Ooooh! Weeee!

My friend, Bea, and I often amuse ourselves speculating that each of us has a cosmic board of directors. Folks we think wield the invisible 2x4s that smack us back to attention when we’re wandering off the path. I think of them much like the Chinese do about   ancestors. Only I muse that there are some other big names in my life sticking their noses in as well. In my mind, they look like day traders–shouting out warnings or coaxing some advice from the other side. Is the cosmic board responsible for this red box.

Now my creative brain starts a monologue:

Oh! A red box. (a gasp of pleasure) I didn’t see this coming. This is an absolute, perfect surprise! My favorite kind! I have no reason to expect something. I haven’t even fantasized about an unexpected surprise! 

But, what kind of surprise?

Welllll. Surely it is a happy surprise because it is in a RED box. Not grey. Not brown. RED! 

Wait a minute—

Perhaps it is some cosmic Pavlovian training. I made it through a challenging week. Hell, two loooong months of character building. Maybe the board is saying, ” Good girl. That was a stiff wind and you’re still standing. You passed the test. Here’s a treat. Now, go out and do it again.”

I have gazed at this box from within my car for five minutes now. I have savored this time  imagining all the possible stories it could tell. Finally, I decide to end the speculation and look at the return address. I see a name that fills me with absolute joy. It is another sister of my good fortune. We’ve only talked once since I left Wisconsin, but she showed up at the concert I came back to sing the first winter I was gone. She has been an amazing person in my life. One of the reasons, I was lucky enough to get the job here. She is wonderful, but she is the first to acknowledge that correspondence is not her best thing–and, so this is all the more meaningful. That she would send an unexpected surprise is really not surprising.

The Juicy Center

With surprises like these, the contents are really secondary. When they are good, it is icing on the cake—the raspberry center in a Bismarck—the liquor in a cordial—the tenderloin in a Wellington. The red box is filled with girly things and things that say “I care about you.” But the first thing I go for is the envelope. I savor the message and news about life at home. “If I called every time I thought of you, I’d be down right pesky….” Those are good words that bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

We share a love of scarves and amidst the other lovely things is a subtle print in pale celadon and aubergine. It reminds me of one of the new prints I made  last weekend. (Scarf left; print right).






Being remembered is a wonderful thing. Knowing someone has taken part of their life to know you is even better. Realizing that they still care is best.

I wore the scarf yesterday. Will pack the other fashion forward items for debut on my conference trip to NYC next week. The pilates DVDs will be opened for a trial run today. The red box still sits in a place of prominence and honor on my counter. Thank you, Cheryl. It was all lovely and much more . . .


About vbassoc

Donna Van Bogaert is a researcher and consultant in the field of cognitive styles, health communication, and organizational communication and behavior. Her business, Van Bogaert & Associates, Inc., specializes in cognitive-based coaching, management consulting, and leadership development. When the winds are blowing her way, she travels and talks about workplace potential and creative problem solving. In another life, Donna sings jazz. For a very long time, she fronted two 18-piece big bands —All That Jazz (Madison, WI) and The Gardenia Big Band (Rockford, IL). She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio where, in a third parallel universe, she leads a media branch of a national research institute. Mostly she has returned to painting, poetry, and plotting the next chapter of her life.
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