You know that feeling when you tear open the wrapping paper on a gift? A beautifully wrapped gift, one whose box and wrapping only faintly hint at the wonder that is inside? You vaguely know what you are hoping for, but don’t dare dream that this could be it?
Or, or, or…you are expecting that Amazon package, that special new thing that is going to complete your life in the most delectable way?
Let me tell you, sixty bucks spent on anything should feel like one of the above.
Yeah. Well, that is not what happened to me today.
I picked up the Elf Boots and forked over sixty bucks, only to be handed back my favorite boots, looking exactly how they should look. No bells and whistles. They still had the green Play-Doh ground into one of the straps. They looked practical, the soles and heels were brand new and the broken strap replaced.
I made an artisan happy. I am tickled to support our local economy in a way that works with how I want to live my life.
But still. Sixty bucks is sixty bucks. There could have at least been, I dunno, like a wrapped package with a bow or something and a flowery letter of thanks from Rumpelstiltskin.
Once I got the shoes home, I took out a long-neglected spray bottle of leather waterproofer and sprayed those suckers down as though we lived in the Pacific Northwest. I treated them like they were new. I took out a suede brush and spiffed them up real nice. (Without green Play-Doh they look positively smashing.) I got out a few other leather items and waterproofed them. Seeing a neat little row of fresh, well-loved shoes and a backpack made my heart warm.
I am glad to have my boots back, but I was admittedly disappointed at the same time. However, this disappointment is very distinct from buyer’s remorse, another feeling with which I am intimately familiar. And given the sum of money spent, I could easily have felt it.
How I treat my things, though, that can make a difference. Seeing my boots: fixed and brushed and cleaned and waterproofed made me feel like a good steward. The disappointment faded and made way for something more pleasant: satisfaction.
I came to remember that Stewardship is one of the virtues on my family’s list, one of the sixty-some virtues we want our children to learn to live by. Feeling virtuous, in this small thing, made me feel happy.
There are no fancy bows or wrapping paper that come with being a good steward. But virtue, it turns out, is its own reward.
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