When it comes to gift cards, I can be a bit of a hoarder.

Maybe it started during my years as a single mom, when a gift card felt like gold in my hand. Splurging on restaurants was out of the question. Any extra cash had to be spent on bills, groceries, new shoes for my growing son. But a gift card? A gift card meant we had permission to get ice cream. Order a pizza. Treat ourselves like a queen and her prince for a day.

I saved gift cards like the last few M&Ms in a bag. Savoring each one, and waiting until just the right moment to cash it in.

It’s now been over a decade since my single mom years. And although our finances aren’t as tight as they were, I still hoard gift cards. My purse boasts a stash big enough to make it impossible to close my wallet. Some I’ve had for years. Yes, YEARS.

Today I decided to use one on a date day with my son. To find a balance between work and play during the summer months, we’ve established one day a week our “date day.” Today was one of those days. And to celebrate we used a gift card. A gelato gift card, the mother of all gift cards. My son got chocolate chip mint. I got the cherry and lime. With each bite we moaned and rolled our eyes: “This is sooooo good!”

Holy frozen sugar, yes it was.

Even more wonderful than the gelato? The fact that enough money remained on the card to come back a second time. My son and I looked at each other conspiratorially: “Next week!”

We took our gelato to go, stashed the prized gift card in my purse, walked quickly to the car in the 90+ degree heat, and prepared to take it home where we’d watch a movie together. On our way to the car, we ran into a couple friends in the parking lot. Not wanting to further melt the gelato, we exchanged brief hugs and said goodbye. But just as I prepared to put the key into the ignition, I felt these words more than I heard them:

Give the rest of your gift card to them.

What?! But it’s gelato! What will we do next Thursday?

Give it away.

I am ashamed to admit I hesitated for a few moments, contemplating the loss of my prized gift card. But then it occurred to me:

The card became mine only because someone chose to give it to me.

Time to give it away.

I did. And our date day ended up becoming a part of their date day.

I swear the gelato tasted even better when I got back in the car.

 

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