COLUMBIA, MO–Joan Hadler, a Columbia-area mother of three, wept tears of joy Monday over a cheap, last-minute present her visiting son Troy bought at an airport gift shop en route home.
"I had a layover in St. Louis and had about an hour to kill. There was a gift shop called 'That's Something Else' in the C Concourse, so I figured, 'Hey, I should pick up something for Mom,'" said Troy Hadler, 25, who now lives in Alexandria, VA. "I picked her up this little teapot, and when I gave it to her, she was so touched, there were tears running down her face. I was glad she liked it, but she liked it so much, I kind of felt sorry for her."
Upon being handed the gift, wrapped only in a plastic bag, Joan protested that her son's visit home was "all the present [she] needed." After opening the bag and seeing the teapot, however, her eyes welled up with tears, and she hugged Troy repeatedly.
"Mom cradled it in her arms like it was a Faberge egg," Troy said. "It made her so incredibly happy. I guess I made the right decision when I chose it over the pewter replica of the St. Louis Arch."
Though Troy said he loves his mother "very much," he admitted that he rarely buys her gifts. On Monday, however, he went the extra mile and spent approximately 60 seconds picking out the $29 flowered enameled teapot.
"I'm sure it was stupid to get something like that at an airport," Hadler said. "It's obviously just some overpriced, crappy version of an actually nice teapot, but I wasn't about to run all over St. Louis comparison-shopping for teapots."
Compounding Troy's guilt, his overjoyed mother told him that the teapot would have "a place of honor" among the decorative tea cups she displays in her home's dining-room cabinet.
"Maybe I subconsciously knew she collected teacups and that's why I got it, but that's unlikely," Troy said. "Pretty much, I was just looking around and saw the teapot and thought, 'Hey, I think mom drinks tea.'"
Despite Troy's insistence that the gift was "no biggie," his mother continued to treat it as a special event well into the next day.
Said next-door neighbor Francine Geis: "I was watering my azalea bushes Tuesday when Joan saw me over the fence. She waved me over and said, 'You've got to come inside and see what Troy brought me all the way from Washington, DC!'"
The neighbor stood by as Joan "oohed and aahed" over the teapot, talking at length about what a thoughtful son she has.
"I wanted to yell, 'Stop! No, I'm not!'" said Troy, who was present for the sad display of unjustified maternal pride. "The only effort I expended in buying the gift was the two-second struggle I had trying to pull the credit card out of my wallet."
"I know Mom wasn't trying to make me feel guilty by overreacting," Troy continued. "She genuinely did love it. Just like she loved the Washington, DC sweatshirt I got her last year and the Blue Mountain e-card I sent her on her birthday in 1999."
To assuage his guilt, Troy has made a pact with himself to buy his mother "a nice necklace or something" from a non-airport gift shop the next time he visits.
"I've got to get her a gift that's actually decent next time," Troy said. "The look of joy on her face from that crappy teapot, man, I felt like the worst son in the whole world."
"Mom said she'd think of me whenever she used the teapot," Troy added. "In turn, I guess I'll think of her whenever I'm in an airport gift shop."