When I was boy, I used to ask my mother what she wanted for Christmas. Without fail, she always replied, “Peace and quiet.” I thought her answer was crazy. Christmas was a joyous time, full of songs, cheer and most important of all, gifts. Why would anyone want something as useless as peace and quiet? “Instead of arguing,” she said, “why not just give me what I want?”

I thought about my mother’s Christmas wish as we went through our yearly tasks of decorating our spas with garlands and trees, organizing gift certificates, stuffing shopping bags with red tissue paper and printing holiday posters and banners. Owning two spas is no joke. There’s always a lot to think about and even more to do, and the lists seem to get longer with every passing year. My mind races back and forth, categorizing tasks into urgent or important. Peace and quiet? They never make it to our lists, are never deemed urgent nor important, and are impossible to achieve.

Or are they? After much thought, I realized that throughout the day, I get to experience peace and quiet, albeit briefly. During a massage, when the music and the lights are low, I try to help my clients reach a state of inner peace and quiet. And really, isn’t peace and quiet the very raison d’etre of a spa? Is this a crazy joke of the universe? Did I become a spa owner to make my mother’s Christmas wish of peace and quiet come true?

Sadly, my mother passed away many years ago, well before we opened Flic Spa. I regret that I no longer have the chance to give her what she wanted, at a place designed to create the very things she craved. I’m sure she would have loved it.

But the universe sometimes spins in a circle of irony. A few days ago, I began a massage treatment in the same exact way, for the last eight years. At my client’s feet, I place a hand-hammered copper bowl full of bubbly water, sprinkled with red rose petals and a votive candle in a half coconut shell bobbing on the surface. I tell my client that it’s a complimentary amenity, just like the jasmine tea I’m serving in a cast iron cup.

As I stand up and reach for the door, I turn to my client and without feeling a trace of irony or awareness of my mother’s memory, I say in a low voice, “And now my next gift to you. Peace and quiet.”

I let the moment pass. I step out of the room, close the door behind me, take a breath and give thanks for my Christmas gift.

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