Yellow and pink marshmallow Peeps have made their way to a shelf near you. As I saw them the other day at the store, I smiled and thought fondly of my former coworker.
I could never really tell if this coworker liked me as she would brush pass me in the hallways hurrying to get somewhere and would seem more matter of a fact than anything when we chatted.
At Christmas, she traditionally gave those she worked with in her department presents as a token of her appreciation and as an expression of how much she cared.
She wasn’t the best with showing how she felt about people with words. Yet, she would find the gift that she knew that each person would appreciate. And she would beam as it was unwrapped. This is when you could see her soft side.
One year, she had a gift for me. I was surprised as I was not in her department and she did not normally include me in her gift giving. Yet, I was instantly touched as I recognized it was her way to show she cared.
She watched me closely as I opened the gift waiting for my reaction. As I pulled out the gingerbread-shaped package of Peeps, she jumped in before I had an opportunity to respond to say, “After our conversation on how much you liked Peeps I thought you would love the Christmas flavored kind.”
Marshmallow Peeps are a sugared marshmallow candy that typically make their appearance around Easter in the candy aisle in the shapes of colorful chicks or bunnies.
In this situation, love is a very strong word, especially since I did not recall a conversation with her about loving Peeps as I did not particularly favor the marshmallow candy that people (my mom included) look forward to each spring.
At that moment, I was back in time to when I was a child and I opened a present at a birthday party from my aunt. It was a shirt that I would now describe in my Minnesota politeness as an “interesting pattern” or in other words not eye appealing.
However, that is not what I said out loud at the time. When I saw the look on my mom’s face, I knew I could have used better words to show gratitude for the gift even if it was not my style.
I am not advocating for distorting the truth. However, I learned that we can still show appreciation for the thoughtfulness of a gift without having to say that we don’t like it.
So here I was listening to this coworker convey excitement how she found Peeps offseason and instantly thought of me. I thanked her for her thoughtfulness and decided I would forgo sharing that I was not fond of Peeps. I knew I could give them to my mom, and they would not go to waste. And I was truly appreciative of being included in her gift giving.
After that gift exchange, our relationship changed. That coworker now smiled when she saw me in the hallway. And she would occasionally leave a Peep related present on my desk, like a yellow stuffed Peep that I adore because of the meaning behind it. I did not realize that my gratitude that day would shape our relationship or that she would continue to highlight our friendship with Peeps.
That spring there was a huge box with no return label left on our doorstep. I was full of excitement as I opened it. It was a box full of Peeps – every kind you could imagine. My coworker would not admit that she dropped them off for me, but nonetheless she was tickled that I had gotten such a great package.
As I sat there surrounded by the marshmallow treats, I could not help to think of how thankful I was for having that coworker in my life. I got to see another side of her, and we now shared meaningful conversations and developed a friendship.
Sometimes we are fortunate to be surrounded by good peeps in life, we just may have to be more open to notice.
* Melissa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org