A very sweet & thoughtful friend in Switzerland learned that a friend of hers (from France) was coming to St. Louis for a steel guitar convention.
She asked him to bring me a small gift. So he & his wife travelled to Switzerland, picked up my gift, carefully packed it in their luggage, and brought it with them to St. Louis.
When they arrived, they called to asked me to meet them during one of the breaks in their convention.
So, I drove the 45 minutes from SW County to their hotel downtown; paid the parking attendant $10 to ignore my car was in a loading zone for 20 minutes; and visited with them for a few minutes before bringing the bag holding my gift home.
When I got home, I opened the bag to discover two gift boxes of Lindt Chocolates. One was Batons Kirsch Kirschstengeli -32 pieces. The other was Lindor - 20 pieces.
So very sweet of her to think of me. And so sweet of her to want to send me a representative product of her country. These are the same candies she brought with her when she visited a few years ago.
I didn't tell her then, and I won't tell her now, that Lindt is a very commonly available chocolate brand all over the US. That I can walk into any number of stores and buy the very same chocolates - for a fraction of the total cost of getting those two boxes to me.
So why am I writing what sounds like a very ungrateful, even snarkey, note about this?
Because, it holds a mirror up for me to view my own gift giving habits when I travel. The gifts I take to friends in other countries are harder to decide on than when we first started travelling. Back then, in Italy for example, you couldn't get some of our most common products in the local markets - peanut butter, for example. Now, it's hard to imagine anything you can't find in a Coop. And what you can't get in the local market, you can order on the internet.