Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The greatest of these...

by Liz Flaherty

We've tried to define Harlequin Heartwarming more than once, I think. We use the words wholesome, sweet, clean, and they all work. But it's been more than that for me. Writing them and reading them and working with the other women who write (and read) them has just been the greatest gift, so even though my post today has nothing to do with writing--other than the fact that it was a writers' group assignment!--it does have to do with gifts. If I've used it before, I so apologize--please just pretend you've never seen it.

In 1990, I had a brand new daughter-in-law I hardly knew. She hardly knew us, either, yet there she was living with us while her husband was at basic and then AIT with the army. She was young and scared and pregnant, giving birth to their first daughter while Chris was at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Their budget was so stretched as to be nonexistent, but one day when Tahne went to town, she came home with a bottle of gardenia cologne for me. It was her favorite scent, not mine, but she didn’t know me well enough to know what I liked—she just wanted to give me something. Twenty-five years later, I’m not sure what ever became of the cologne, but I still have the daughter-in-law.

       We passed a car down to our grandsons. It was a car that had problems
and created problems and should have been made into a nice meringue pie, but it was a pretty SUV, and the price made fixing its relentless foibles a viable option for the boys and their parents. Shea, the one who drives it the most, was thrilled beyond words to be driving the car. He worked at an orchard, and when he found out I loved Honeycrisp apples, he kept me in them until the orchard ran out of them.

       My daughter teaches special education. As the mother of three sons, girly isn’t part of her lifestyle, and she misses it sometimes. She decided she wanted to have Tiara Thursday for her girl students—Kari still wears her 40th-birthday tiara every chance she gets—but the cost of the sparkly headbands for all her girls was prohibitive. When I found some in the clearance aisle at the Dollar Store, I texted to find out how many she needed.

       That Thursday morning, I took the yellow sack of purchases up to the school, thinking to leave them at the office for Kari to pick up, but she asked me to bring them to the classroom. Where I got to hand tiaras to five squealing, excited little girls who were very happy to pose for pictures and give me hugs and huge smiles. Even the boys in the class put on the tiaras for pictures. I’m pretty sure the tiaras were the best $7.50 I ever spent, and the gift was to me.

       No matter how much or how often I write about it, I don’t know how to define love any more than I can define Harlequin Heartwarming—I don’t think anyone does—but I guess if I had to, I’d say it was made of Honeycrisp apples, little-girl tiaras, and gardenia cologne.

28 comments:

  1. I happen to love the smell of Gardenia (I have a White Gardenia mist spray that I like to spritz around my house. It's very light); and Honeycrisp apples. And what a sweet tiara story. You can't put a price tag on those moments. I can't really define love or Harlequin Heartwarming accurately either, but both make me feel really good. ( :

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    1. We're all glad they make you feel good, Laurie! I love gardenia, too, but I wasn't familiar with it then. It always makes me think of Tahne, which is a good thing.

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  2. Liz, what a "sweet" way to start my day. A great gift is all about thoughtfulness instead of expense to me. I had a great gift this weekend after coming home from RWA.... My husband installed a desperately needed new toilet and sink in my bathroom while I was gone. I had no idea he was planning to do this and when he picked me up from the airport he told me he had planned to stop and buy me some flowers but was running late. When I got home and saw that toilet... Well, let's just say who needs flowers when they have a new toilet?

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    1. I'm jealous! I have a new toilet, but it's been sitting in my garage for 10 months! (in fairness, Mr. Curtis said when I tile the bathroom floor he'll install the toilet)

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    2. I'm campaigning for a new toilet, too! Is it something going around? I think your husband's gift was perfect, Carol--I'd take it over flowers, too. :-)

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  3. I loved this, Liz. How fortunate you are to do something you're so passionate about. Not many people can say the same about their careers. I love that even the boys in the class wore the tiaras. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jill, and you're right. I loved my day job almost the whole 30 years I did it, but it was never a passion like writing is--I am so blessed!

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  4. What a great pick-me-upper for today! Thank you for this. And Carol, I'd rather have a new toilet any day than flowers lol.

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    1. Thanks, Pat. I think toilets are winning!

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  5. How beautiful, Liz! I loved my mother-in-law almost as much as my own mom, and it's clear you and your daughter-in-law share the same, strong bond. It's clear to all reading this that the family love and caring that began with you will be passed on through many generations. That's quite a testament, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I say how proud I am to appear in the Heartwarming author lists with you! Here's hoping your summer is as beautiful as the stories you share!

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    1. Thank you so much, Loree. I love my mother-in-law, too. We just saw her today--if I am a good mother-in-law, I learned a lot of it from her, plus my kids-in-law have made it easy.

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  6. Small unexpected gifts can be the best. When I had my son, our first child, everyone gave my son gifts. My mother-in-law gave one to me – a bottle of Chanel #5. For years it was my favorite and I thought of her every time I used it.

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    1. What a blessing, and what a great story, Marion!

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  7. Liz! What a beautiful, beautiful story. Loree put it perfectly. The love that began with you will be passed on. And you know you did it well when they gave it back! What a perfect, Heartwarming post. I'm proud to know you, Girl. And I'm instituting Tiara Thursday right now!.

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    1. Thank you, Muriel. And I think Tiara Thursday is a wonderful custom. :-)

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  8. Liz, I agree with the comments above. This is a truly touching, "heartwarming" post!

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  9. Just what I needed today, Lizzie--thank you. And honeycrisp apples? MI in September is full of them!!

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    1. LOL. I'm sure we'll find some, Nan--we always do!

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  10. Heartwarming - gifts from the heart. Lovely.

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  11. What a lovely description of the Heartwarming line, Liz! Well said. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cerella. This is just the best group of writers to be connected with!

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  12. Aw! I love this post, Liz and it's a wonderful illustration of what Heartwarming is about- relationships, caring, support, giving... I'm so proud to write for this line and work with wonderful authors like you :)

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    1. Back atcha, Karen--I feel the same way!

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  13. I love this post! Thank you, Liz, for a "heartwarming" start to my day.

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    1. Thanks, Kristine--I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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