Ornaments by Soapylovedeb (flickr) 

One of my favorite gifts ever received was a box of Kleenex.

It was winter and I had a cold, in college and broke, and while the dorm bathroom toilet paper might have been two-ply, to my red and raw nose it more closely resembled sandpaper than pillowy softness.  But it was free and endless, and being a beggar I was no chooser, so I did the best with what I had.  

One afternoon in the midst of my sniffling and sneezing misery, I walked into our room to find a new, unopened box of tissue perched atop my laminated dresser.  Cradled in the comfort of student uniform–sweats!–Cassie looked up from her I’m-sure-compelling textbook and smiled.  

“I got you a surcie,” her voice and eyes twinkled.  

I looked at the cube and it clearly said “Kleenex” and in my mind I attempted to re-hear what she had just said, trying to figure out how “tissue” or “Kleenex” could sound like a completely different word.  All I could muster was, “What did you just call it?”

“A SIR SEE,” she repeated, loudly and slowly enunciating each syllable as if I were deaf and from another country.  “It’s a little thought-gift.  You know, just a little present that says ‘I love you’.”

And so my college roommate and lifetime lovie introduced me to the concept of “surcies”; a love affair now raging for decades.  

What is a surcie exactly?  While it’s difficult to spell–when researching the word a while back I discovered a bunch of spellings but little content on the word’s origin–it’s simple to explain.  Surcies…

  • are typically inexpensive but they don’t have to be; their value is derived from the thoughtfulness of the giver.
  • they’re a tangible expression of “I know you”,  “I love you”, “I care about you”.
  • they are not intended to be reciprocated.
  • they’re unexpected.
  • they can be bought, handmade or a possession of the giver.

How about some examples for further clarification?

– A small camel figurine (the giver was a collector of camel statues, and when I moved to Tennessee years ago, my friend wanted to send a “piece of her” with me, selecting a small one from her collection).

– A box of decorative wooden matches (on a lunch and shopping outing with my sister a few years ago, I spotted a box of the coolest matches, but for five bucks I was too cheap to buy something I really didn’t need; when I wasn’t looking, she picked them up and paid for them and slipped them in with another birthday present she had purchased for me).

– A hand-stitched bookmark (my daughter, who at the time the most voracious reader on the planet, was concerned when she saw me using a receipt for a bookmark.  Out of scrap fabric, she made an “official bookmark” for me to use)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It occurred to me, oddly enough, that surcies in their own way are a manifestation of the Divine. 

The value of Christ is derived from the Giver and His thoughtfulness. The gifts of Christ’s life and death, forgiveness and redemption tell me how much God loves me, how well He knows me and the incomprehensible extent to which He cares about me.

I couldn’t reciprocate this gift even if I tried. God the Father gave His son…He sacrificed His son…and Jesus willingly cloaked Himself in humanity to live and breathe and feel and ultimately die as a man…for those whom would receive Him, the ultimate surcie.


by Robin

  • http://www.momssharpeningmoms.blogspot.com Kristen – Moms Sharpening Moms

    Great thoughts, Robin! Seemingly “small” gestures that can yield big blessings. These kinds of gifts are my most favorite of all. Thanks for writing this!
    Merry Christmas!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pensieve Robin (Pensieve)

    I hope it doesnt come across that Im minimizing Christ (not that you implied that at all :) ); the concept of a surcie is rooted in so much more than a simple gift, but its meaning is significant.

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn

    How often a little voice in my head says, “Oh, don’t give her that, it’s dumb.” Need to fight off that little voice. It really IS the small, unexpected, spontaneous gift that says a lot.
    Your roommate’s gift of tissues showed she was paying attention. Often that’s what we need to know, that someone else hears our need, that we are not invisible.

  • http://morningcupwithmeg.blogspot.com Meg

    What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Paula Jean

    Thank you for putting into words the feelings in my heart! And even better, putting a little name to the gifts, surcie. I love it!

  • katie

    My most favorite gifts in the world to give or get. Blessed Christmas……

  • http://pursuingharmony.blogspot.com Frelle

    I’m so glad to know there is a name for the little thought gifts I give and recieve!! :)

  • http://www.HarvestingHope.blogspot.com Jenni Saake – InfertilityMom

    I don’t believe I’ve heard the term “surcie” before, but I love it. My hubby brought me a surcie last night, a couple of pieces of my favortie candy, slipped from his pocket into my hand while the kids weren’t looking. I love the meaning, “a tangible expression of ‘I know you’, ‘I love you’, ‘I care about you’.” How you died that all in with Christ was great, though anything but “inexpensive” was His Gift!

  • http://bellwhistlemoon.blogspot.com/ mary bailey

    My grandparents taught me the word “surcie”. Usually the surcies they gave came in the form of a twenty-dollar bill…just because, to buy myself a “surcie” with. Loved this post!

  • http://countrymouseclaire.blogspot.com/ Claire

    I do this, but have never had a name for it before. Now I do – thank you!

  • http://www.givinguponperfect.com Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect

    I’ve never heard this term! But I love getting and giving these type of thought-gifts! Thanks for teaching me something, Robin – and reminding me to take time to look for more giving opportunities!!

  • http://simplyhis.org Lisa B @ simply His

    Robin, I love you :) God’s blessed my socks off just from the little bit we’ve gotten to know each other. I need to be better about paying attention to the little things I could do or give others. When your life is sucked into the online world, it’s hard to pull yourself back out. I’m pulling offline for the next few weeks to spend time with my family and see if I can’t work on some IRL (in real life) friendships.
    I wish I had a bright idea of a surcie I could send you for Christmas, but all I have is my love and prayers for you girl! I so wish we lived right next door to each other :) Merry Christmas!

  • http://www.snoodlings.com whimzie

    My family calls them “surcies,” too, although we spell it “searcies.” My mom learned the word from HER college roommate and I taught it to mine. Isn’t that funny?

  • http://laurasalas.livejournal.com/ laurasalas

    Love this story, Robin. And you’ve inspired me to add “giving surcies” to my list of things I’d like to do in 2010. I’m a terrible, unimaginative gift-giver. I rely on family members’ lists. But for little, no-pressure things like this…I’m inspired!
    Thanks–and happy 2010!

  • http://www.bestfinance-blog.com Crystal19Dominguez

    Do you recognize that it’s high time to receive the loans, which can realize your dreams.

  • Pingback: Interesting Links: December Edition()