a maize n’ grace

This blog was inspired by the unexpected thoughtfulness of a stranger. This post is about the unexpected thoughtfulness of a friend. And corn.

Let me begin by stating that I love corn, especially fresh, sweet summer corn on the cob. A more perfect summer food does not exist. My mouth is watering just from typing the word. Corn. Just one bite of that savory, buttery flavor and my mind is transported to the lazy summer afternoons of my childhood in Michigan. I can imagine my dad and little brother sitting with me on our picnic table, all of our faces covered with mashed bits of what was once considered to be the food of gods, the sustenance of life.

However, for the past two years corn on the cob has been a forbidden food as I have been wearing braces on my teeth, the result of a traumatic bicycle accident. For people wearing braces corn on the cob is usually No. 3 on the list of top foods to be avoided, although this ranking is most likely based on alphabetical order rather than its potential for bracket carnage. In any case, the point is that I have been largely depraved of this glorious food, packed with nutrients and nostalgia.

Some time ago I was lamenting this fact to my friend Leah. For whatever reason, my comments stuck with her and earlier this week she presented me with a “corn zipper.” It zips corn cleanly, efficiently and effortlessly off of the cob. It’s practical, stylish and genius. And, as unlikely as it may seem, it’s a gift that really touched my heart.

While I have mostly recovered from my bicycle accident, repairing my teeth has been a long and painful process. One that is highlighted daily by the foods I can and cannot eat. Crunchy foods. Sticky foods. Corn on the cob.

Not to downplay the extraordinary, superhuman acts of kindness shown by my friends in the immediate aftermath of my accident – compassion and helpfulness that I’m not sure I can ever adequately repay – but Leah’s small gesture really meant a lot to me. Listening and creativity have always been the staples of thoughtful gift giving. At the end of the day, it is not the size of the gift or even the scope of the situation, but the thought behind it that matters the most. Be kind.

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