Thursday, January 14, 2010

Unexpected Gifts :: Anne McAllister

I told someone the other day that I wasn't making new year's resolutions because I knew what the right things to do were.

One of them is to clean my office. As I'm between books -- sort of -- now seems like a good time.

What also makes it a good time is that my husband, bless his little neat-freak heart, bought me shelving for Christmas.

Now, I ask you, is that a man who knows his wife -- or what?

Well, certainly he knows what I need, even if it might not have been precisely at the top of my Christmas wish list.

Still, the minute I opened the gargantuan box, I knew it was a perfect gift. What's more, he assembled them the day after Christmas (it was all I could do to convince him he didn't need to do it Christmas morning!). He even stacked all my file boxes on them.

And he went back to Lowe's to buy a sixth shelf when it was clear that one eight foot unit of five shelves wasn't going to do the trick. True love, yes?

And now -- with six shelves -- I must say that nearly three weeks later, things are clearing up.

The interesting geological formations that come from books growing weekly in stalagmites here and there have been leveled and boxed.

The dust bunnies under the trundle bed/sofa have been vanquished. You can sit on it again. Someone could even sleep on it if they so desired.

The books have been shelved. The DVDs have been sorted and put away. The stacks of paper have been, well, re-stacked (let's not ask for perfection here). And some of them have been scanned by my sheet-feed scanner, which I bought myself last year and which ranks right up there with the shelving as an Extremely Useful Piece of Equipment.

I actually uncovered the printer the other day. In an effort not to make things worse by printing yet more paper, I'd conveniently buried it beneath my tax information. Those files have now been sorted and put away.

Let's face it, a paperless office I will never have. But, besides the printer and the surface of the bed/sofa, I uncovered a bit of carpet last week. There's actually a floor here somewhere!

I'm so pleased.

In fact, I'm thinking that my unexpected shelving unit was likely one of the best presents I've ever been given. It's made my life easier, less fraught, more manageable. It may be chrome and cold, but it's been warming my heart since Christmas morning.

What about you? What's the most unexpected present you've ever received? Did it make you as happy as my shelving unit has made me?

Leave your answer in the comments here and my golden retrievers, Micah and Mitch, will pick one to receive a copy of my most recent book, One Night Mistress . . . Convenient Wife.

They are practicing their "picking winners" technique because, beginning in February, I'm giving away a book a day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my first book, Starstruck.

If you want to practice, too, drop by and leave a comment on my blog to enter the drawing.


Laney4 said...

My unexpected present came several years ago from my sister and her husband 2000+ miles away. He had bought her tickets to Stars on Ice and asked her who she would like to take, out of anyone in the world. She said me.
They paid for my plane tickets and I stayed a week. My kids were in high school at the time and I'd never left them before. They and my husband were fine, although they were glad for more variety in their meals when I returned. I had an absolute blast, though. As always, our first stop was the local library to stock up on my nighttime reading material (and theirs). We played board games, we went out to lunch or supper a few times, we went mall shopping for long pants I can't buy in my hometown area, we went walking daily, and we indeed enjoyed Stars on Ice. I have some lovely memories of that week, and I'm sure my sister and her husband (and their older kids) do too.
Thanks for asking such a poignant question. I've enjoyed reliving that week yet again!

Laney4 said...

Hi again!
Just wanted to add that I enjoyed your shelving story. What an ideal gift.
I too have lots of shelves but they are always used for something else, it seems. I bought a shelving cabinet complete with doors years ago for my books, and they slowly became filled with encyclopedias instead. At one point I had 13 sets. Then along came computers. I still have one set, as I've "filed" beautiful pictures and articles about various things within those pages "just in case" my now-grown daughter needs some for work (as she works in a daycare). In the meantime, the unused space is filled with my daughter's craft items for work.
I had a metal shelving unit installed for my books, but my now-grown son has his truck display on it.
I had a wooden collapsible shelving unit too. It used to be filled with more of my son's display items, but I recently "took it back" and am slowly filling it with my books. I still have books on my floor in front of it, but I'm getting there.
Good luck with your six shelves. There's no doubt in my mind you'll need another shelving system in the near future too, but this should do in the meantime. We can never have enough shelves. (Perhaps you'll get another NEXT Christmas???)

Caroline Storer said...

Love your blog. Shelving units are something I could do with at the moment. Best unexpected prezzie - and I haven't actually *had* it yet - is that darling DH2b paid for a writing weekend course for me with Kate Walker for Christmas this year. I so cannot wait until Feb 19th! Take care. Caroline x

Kirsten said...

Hello Anne!
For months I have been struggling with my computer mouse. It had a mind of its own and never ever listened to what I told him to do. This was time consuming and made me want to pull my hair out or scream. Then about two weeks ago my sister gave me a surprise visit and second present. A new mouse. Blue and fabulously obedient! It I'm over the moon with it. Why didn't I get one before? Anyway, Thanx sis! I love it (and you).

Rebekah E. said...

The most unexpected gift I got from my husband would have to have been my ford explorer. We just had our third kid and our van would barely go anywhere without breaking down. I was so shocked when he pulled up in the driveway with the explorer I've been wanting for years.

Alison said...

My most unexpected present was a positive pregnancy test, a week after my birhtday - though spookily enough, my horoscope for that year had said on that weekend I would receive news that would change my life. Of course it did! - but we wouldn't change anything.

The Voice said...

My unexpected gift is a Blackberry Storm2 from my eldest daughter this past Saturday. A 'just because' gift.

Sometimes I think they like me.

Mary said...

My most unexpected gift was from someone anonymous abut a year ago. I don't know if any of you know this but if you have an 'wish list' you can make it public and if someone wants to they can actually pay for something on your wish list and anonymously send it to you. All without ever getting your address. So someone actually did this for me, they sent me a book off my wish list and I never found out who it was. it was so unexpected that I randomly picked someone who had a public wish list and anonomously sent someone some stationary they had on their list. It really made me feel good to know that I gave someone the same gift someone had given to me.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Anne! Shelves would have been wonderful. What I got was a Beta fish. Beautiful. I have a houseful of cats. The people who gave me the fish have known me for most of my life. They knew that I had taken in a slew of abused and rescue case cats and they still gave me a fish. I tried moving the fish from place to place, but his graceful swishes through his bowl always caught their eye. Finally, I packed up Mr. Fish, apologized to him all the way & assured him it was for his own good, and returned him to the givers. They really still didn't seem to understand that it was a matter of life and death.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Anne McAllister said...

What an amazing array of gifts!

Laney, how wonderful your brother-in-law and sister were to give you such a great week, which I'm sure they enjoyed, too.

Caroline, I'm sure you'll love Kate's course and will be totally inspired by it. And what a great DH2b you've got to think of such a thing. Obviously a good man!

Kirsten, an obedient blue mouse? Wow. I want one! I used to have a trackball with a mind of its own. Now it's living somewhere else. My new mouse is quite helpful, but he's not blue!

Rebekah, I hope you love your Explorer as much as I loved mine. We had ours for 14 years and I would still have it today, but it was going to need major repairs in the near future, so we parted with it finally. I shed a tear, believe me. It was a great car. Enjoy!

Alison, congratulations! What exciting news! I wish you a wonderful pregnancy, a safe delivery and a beautiful child to change your life!

TheVoice2, A Blackberry Storm2 sounds like a pretty nice gift. Yes, I'd say they do like you! I hope you enjoy it a lot.

Mary, I wondered about that part of the Amazon wish list. What a wonderful surprise for you -- and how lovely to pass it on to someone else. That makes two unexpected gifts -- definitely passing the joy forward. Thanks for telling us about that possibility!

Virginia, oh, the poor fish. I'm sure he was stressed having all those cats watching his every move! You were very kind to him to find him a new home. One of the things that seems to make an unexpected gift really wonderful is if it somehow fills the unspoken desires of needs we have. It means that the gift-giver understands us. Sadly your fish-giving friends seem not to have taken your cats into account! Bless you for making sure the fish had a safer place to live!

Estella said...

My daughter gave me a gift certificate to Amazon because she knew I wanted some books, but couldn't afford them.

Anne McAllister said...

What a thoughtful daughter you have! I hope you enjoy your books. if you read a particularly good one, do let us know!

Pat Cochran said...

Our most unusual gift was not an
unexpected gift. We knew it was
coming, just not what day it would
arrive! On Valentine's Day in 1962, we gifted each other with a son,
our first child of what would
eventually be four children.

Pat Cochran

robynl said...

my most unexpected gift that I absolutely love was the gold Medic Alert bracelet dh gifted me with one Christmas a few years back. It is beautiful in and of itself and I love bracelets. He did this all on his own.

Michele L. said...

Hi Anne,

Love your Christmas present! The most unexpected gift I ever received was from my hubby and he gave me an engagement ring. What a total surprise!

I also got a wonderful shelving unit from my husband for Christmas a year ago for all my paperbacks. I absolutely love it! It is a 3 sided, rotating shelving unit that has 15 acrylic book holders that are removable. The sides of the shelving unit are slats so you can move the acrylic holders anywhere you want. I have over 300 plus books in my shelving unit. Just love it!

Linda Henderson said...

I think the most unexpected gift I have received this year was the air freshners that my daughter bought me for my birthday. I had discovered these Febreeze air freshners called Moroccan Bazaar and I had been raving about how I loved the smell, so she bought me two sets for my birthday. Unusual, but I was very happy with them.

Anne McAllister said...

Pat, Valentine's Day must be very special in your house! What a lovely gift of love your son was to each of you. Happy Valentine's Day a month early!

Robynl, What a thoughtful smart husband -- and one who obviously knows not just what his wife likes but what she needs as well. He sounds like a keeper!

Michele, an engagement ring is a pretty spectacular unexpected gift. You must have said yes! And your shelving unit sounds wonderful -- exactly the sort of thing someone who loves books needs.

Linda, How wonderful to have a daughter listens! That's a gift in itself -- though the air fresheners are certainly a great idea, too. I'll have to keep my eye open for Moroccan Bazaar and give a sniff in its direction when I find it. Thanks for telling us about it.

Anne McAllister said...

Micah and Mitch, my golden retriever prize-winner-picking pups, have chosen Kirsten as the winner of a copy of One Night Mistress ... Convenient Wife! I think they were enchanted by the notion of a blue mouse!

Congratulations, Kirsten. Please go to my website at and send me your postal address. You can either click on the link at the very bottom of the page to 'contact Anne' or go to the news page and use the 'sign up for the newsletter' link. Either will get to me.

And thanks to everyone who told us about your unexpected gifts. The comments were wonderful.

chey said...

My best unexpected gift was when I was a kid. The first 3 books in the Anne of Green Gables Series. Those books started my love of reading!