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I am not a huge Paul McCartney fan. I don’t hate him but he’s not really on my Top 10 All Time Favorites list. I can take the Beatles or leave them – and you guessed it, I mostly leave them.

Not my brother, though. He loves the Beatles. I mean really, really loves them, especially Paul McCartney. When I heard McCartney was touring in 2014, I bought two tickets for David’s birthday. He nearly did a back flip when I told him.

For a casual fan (like me), it was an excellent concert, definitely on my list of Top 10 All Time Best Concerts. Yes, I have a lot of Top 10 lists. But watching my brother was a hundred times better than the concert itself. He sang along to every song – and he has a good voice, but I did have to nudge him when people around us started to look at him. I wanted him to have fun and I didn’t want someone saying something to him. If I didn’t know better, I would swear he floated about six inches off his seat for the entire show.

The Sprint Center in Kansas City holds almost 19,000 people and the show was sold out. I have been to several concerts there (and similar arenas) but McCartney made it feel like we were sitting in his living room while he played some tunes for us. Intimate is the only word that will describe it.  It felt like he was performing with us instead of for us.  I think the word ‘amazing’ is overused and has become non-descriptive, but that concert was amazing in the true sense of the word. Fan-fucking-tastic.

That was the best gift I have ever given anyone. I am not an inspired gift-giver, but that concert was perfect.

The flip side of that is the best gift I have ever received. MMB is an inspired gift-giver, but she did two things for me that were absolutely perfect.

The first was going with me to Ghost Ranch. My friend Gail invited me to a writer’s conference there and I was considering it. It was expensive, both the conference itself and the trip to get there. I was on the fence. It was when I first began to battle my writing fear with any degree of seriousness.  We were talking on the phone and I honestly don’t know if I suggested it or she did, but she offered to go with me and hang out for the week.

If she hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have followed through with it. I would have found an excuse (probably financial) to pass on the opportunity and I wouldn’t be where I am now with writing. I’m more confident, more creative, more driven. I still have fear (who doesn’t?), but MMB’s generosity opened a door for me that I wouldn’t have opened myself. That was the best gift I have ever been given – it is simply priceless.

The second gift she gave me was visiting me in January to help me get organized for the move. MMB made it fun, she made it easy and she motivated me to keep going on the path I was on. If she hadn’t come to help, I would still be in Kansas City. I would have made the move eventually, but it would have been months later or perhaps another year later. She offered help, support and a level of comfort that I needed, along with some gentle nudging.

Sometimes the best gifts don’t come in a wrapped package with a pretty bow on top.