Everyone older than the age of three knows that there are two types of surprises, the good kind and the bad kind. Cars that won’t start, tests you failed though you thought you were prepared, jeans that won’t zip when they did a few weeks ago, and leaks in the roof are just a few of those disappointing surprises that life springs on us from time to time. Then there are the fun surprises like money found in pockets while doing the laundry, an unexpected rebate check in the mail, a special thank you note from someone you didn’t know appreciated your work, and other little signs that everything will be okay.
I’ve always enjoyed what I call “safe surprises.” There was a booth at our county fair that sold cheap costume jewelry and trinkets. A basket of “grab bags” sat on the corner of the table and I would save a few dollars of my spending money to buy one and be “surprised.” Sometimes the thing I got wasn’t worth the dollar or two that I spent but that wasn’t the point. After I’d buy my bag, I’d sit on a bench to study the brown wrapping, anticipating what might be inside and this is what I spent my dollar on, this sense of excitement and anticipation. I wasn’t a novice so I didn’t expect a pony or something crazy, but I knew what the booth sold and I was rarely disappointed.
Imagine my delight when I recently found a new type of “grab bag,” all grown up and perfect for someone like me. Although I grew up in Michigan then lived in Chicago, Illinois for my early adult life, I now live in Georgia. In mid-February, just before the Great Home Flood of 2014, I read an article about a company called Georgia Crafted. Part of a state initiative to promote Georgia made products; this group buys select items and puts together surprise boxes. For a reasonable fee, you can join Georgia Crafted for one, three, or six months and have a new surprise box delivered to your door each month.
I decided that to really give it a try, I needed a three-month subscription, and what a wonderful three months they were. The first box came and we opened it to find cookies, honey, syrup, and other wonderful products made right here in Georgia. Over the next two months, my husband, daughter and I anticipated each box with great excitement and we were never disappointed. There were jams and jellies, sauces and sweets, chocolate pies and hand-made cards. There were products with cute names like “Kiss My Grits,” a lip exfoliator made with real grits, and others that had won state taste competitions. There are usually five items per box, most of them full-sized and all of them wonderful. Once in a while there is something in the box that we won’t eat or use but these items make great gifts so it’s all good.
When the third month box came and we were all stuffing our faces with the most amazing chocolate chess pie, Mike said, “I can’t wait for next month’s box.” Willow nodded in vigorous agreement. I looked at their glowing faces and realized I had to buy another subscription, six months this time, for them. Besides, the next box was scheduled to feature products that won or were runners-up at the 2014 Taste of Georgia competition. Even though we didn’t know what would be in the box, how could we go wrong?
Side note: That box has since come and gone and we’re still talking about the peach pralines and sour cream coffee cake with caramel icing.
It might seem odd to have a regularly scheduled “surprise” but it makes my life a little brighter, and I am under strict orders not to open the box if it arrives before Mike and Willow get home. Besides, everyone needs a nice surprise now and then, even if you order it yourself.
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