Maple Flavored Kindness

Yesterday was a rough day and I needed a boost. You know the type, a day following the previous night’s lack of sleep, waking to morning nervousness and a heavy dose of anxiety. We’ve all been there.

On top of that, I had an appointment for my new crown. Yep, on a molar, #31 for those who know teeth (and for those who don’t, it’s the lower right, 12 year molar, your dental lesson for the day). The crown is beautiful. The dentist who placed it–my boss, and the assistant who helped–did a great job. They are the very best. I walked out proudly. Really. l am lucky to work with such great people (that topic is worthy of a book. It’s in the works).

It was a hard day–issues needed to be dealt with–and I was a mess, thoroughly worked up, believed I was in a pickle.

But, I arrived home to this package from Canada, and it completely and thoroughly made my day. There was tea, coffee, chocolate, syrup, and taffy. Oh, my.

But, let me back up a step; this requires a bit more information.

Feb 2016_me with Brazilian family_summer 1976

In 1976 I had a life-changing experience. I visited Brazil. It was a program through my high school, and I stayed for three months with a marvelous family. At right is the only photo of all of us together.

After I came home, the only way short of phone calls to maintain communication was long-hand. I’d always written letters, so this was no skin off my nose. We communicated for years via letters, until one day, who knows why, it ended, probably from time and distance.

Later, I took advantage of the Internet and decided to write. These people had taken me in and treated me as one of their own; they’d completely captured my heart. I had never forgotten because to me they were family. I’d retained quite a bit of Portuguese–I still don’t know how–so I wrote long-hand once again, offering my email address, hoped I’d hear back. I did.

In the ensuing years, we kept it going with email correspondences, sending photos and anything email service would allow. With social media, that became easier through the years. These days, there is no excuse.

Three years ago, my host sister and her husband visited. It was the first time I had seen them since 2006 (when I took my daughter for two weeks, but that requires a post of its own). Before ’06, it had been 30 years.

What does this have to do with packages from Canada? My host sister’s son–my Brazilian nephew–spent time there recently, and because he was close, I invited him for Christmas. He came, that being his first visit to the U.S.

He’d mentioned his discovery of maple flavored tea while in Canada, and offered to send some before he returned to Brazil. I had completely forgotten, and was very much surprised yesterday to come home to his gift.

It was just the ticket. This simple act of kindness, a gesture he did not need to make, lifted my heart at just the right time. He could not have known which day his gift would arrive, or what I’d been going through, but it didn’t matter. The timing was perfect.

Each item he sent is maple flavored. If I was a cat, I’d be purring. I probably drooled. I don’t think he knew it is my absolute favorite (I request maple bars at staff meetings, and gladly give up any-flavored birthday cake in lieu of maple bars should the offer arise). I cannot try the taffy yet, not with my new crown (and I can’t let it melt in my mouth, taffy must be chewed). I offer no complaints. I’m all smiles.


This morning I made the coffee. It was fabulous. I’d never heard of maple flavored coffee, but you can bet I’ll be on the Internet soon, placing my order.

The aroma in my kitchen was indescribable.

Last evening I tried the tea. Delicious. I know how he got “addicted” to the stuff, his word.

With this simple gift, something happened. I was reminded of a place and time, long ago, when people showed me an incredible amount of kindness. I was reminded of safety, laughter, love, and a summer so full of discovery I hated to return to the only home I’d ever known.

I was reminded of our long journey, the years of often-times shaky communication, to get where we are today. What began in 1976 has endured for 40 years. That alone warms my  heart. It’s rather remarkable as this isn’t always the case with student exchanges.

Something else happened with that gift. My troubles vanished. The knot entangling me had loosened its grip. My nephew’s gift of maple kindness replaced worry.

That is what kindness does. It is offering the very best of who we are, showing others what we are capable of. We may never know the ripple effect from one simple act of kindness.

Pass it on.



  3 comments for “Maple Flavored Kindness

  1. February 5, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    I’m sorry to hear you had a rough day. Pretty cool though, how his gift appeared at the same time! Love your story and photographs! Like a family reunion almost. Funny how kindness sometimes makes us forget our troubles. Hope today was a better day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • karenlee
      February 5, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Aw, you are most kind. We are one big family and they are very special people. One little gesture can mean so much. Can’t stand it when I over worry, but that was a fabulous reminder of far greater things to think about. I am very blessed. Hugs to you, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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