I’m grateful for things – especially gifts – and I’m grateful for giving things away.

My father traveled a lot when I was growing up, and he often brought home an owl for me. Since he traveled all over the world, I had owls from all over the world. And I loved that tradition, and I loved the extra effort he made. He seemed to like that the search for owls would take him to local craft markets or other interesting places that he might not otherwise go.

When I graduated from high school, I chose one owl to take to college, and left the rest in a box. Years ago, my mother mailed me the box, but I didn’t even take the tape off – I had no idea what to do with those owls, so leaving them in the box felt like the easiest thing to do.

When I did open the box, I knew I couldn’t keep a whole parliament of owls. It caught my breath to realize that the real gift was in the fact that my dad remembered – that he bothered – and not in the owls themselves.

So I chose three, and donated the rest. Even three was probably at least two too many. But: baby steps.