The knock on the door surprised us. We’d been watching the evening news obviously oblivious to the world on the other side of the windows. The dogs must have greeted the neighbour with anticipation for a cuddle or a pat because she parked the car, collected the parcel form the back seat and walked to the front door without them coughing a barky noise.

The neighbour balances the parcel on the dining table. Earlier, her husband had spotted where it came from, the land of amazing chocolate and delicious beer (can you guess?). He voices to his wife his wish for us (and perhaps secretly for himself) that the box contains at least some chocolate. Eying up the size of the parcel, he concludes that finding bottled beers is unlikely.

We chat for a while about our winter hibernation activities, our craving for the summer’s social gatherings and what the coming week has in store. But can I stop thinking about the parcel’s content? No! I am dying to open it, to rip the cardboard apart (I’d never do that, I am so boringly behaved) and feel the weight of the books, ogle the covers, smell the ink, smile at the titles before giving proper attention to the sweet Belgian (aha!) treats sprinkled between the words.

a special picture book

But this box harbours more and has been anticipated for many months. While in full lockdown in New Zealand (beginning 25 March 2020) and international freight virtually non-existent, I ordered a personalised picture book from MeMeMe Press for a little boy, Edison, and his two mamas. The story and the pictures make me chuckle and move me – they are the perfect reflection of Edison’s family’s make-up, I just love it. I can’t wait to hear what my lovely friend Mennie, his grandmother, has to say once she sees this. We share this passion about writing, books and everything that goes with it. She’ll appreciate this unique gift.

And Edison’s book came about because I read just about everything, from labels on cans to book reviews, from journal articles to comic strips, from emails to one-liners. Because while I am reading, my mind is always keeping others in mind.  

And while lifting books out of the box of presents carefully selected and packed by my mum (moeke I call her in Flemish) and trying hard not to succumb to the bar of delicious white chocolate, I spot something unexpected yet exciting. What do you think it was? And what memorable surprise sent to you by mail would you like to share?


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