It was handed to me, in a wrinkly, thin, waxy tan paper bag with two scarves inside.

“Whichever one you like best. I’ll give what you don’t choose to my mom” he smiled with his adorably sheepish grin.

He’s my stepson. A US Marine back from his 9 month deployment. It’s an honor to have him home safe and that I get a gift. But, choosing before his mother? In reverse, I know I’d be hurt since my biological son is also in the service. Also deployed at the time.

I preferred the one that was lighter; a sage green and sharp peach swirling design. “You choose”. I reply. “Which one will your mother like better”?

He looks at them thoughtfully under the kitchen light. Shadowed by his broad shoulders. He shrugs.

“I dunno”.

He’s still a little boy in there. But I see the man too. A boy/man who sincerely didn’t know which scarf is the nicer of the two.

“I like the checked one.” I lied.

He hands it to me. Then shoves the other one back into its crinkly bag.

His smile is so infectious. Another connection that’s just “ours”. I hug and thank him before we move on to pizza and a movie.

He’ll never need to know I left the scarf I liked better as I thought his mother would appreciate it more than the one I took. (Which I wear often).

The best gift is that he came back still “him”. That’s more than enough.


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