Four Simple but Significant Gifts
I am sentimental. I love old photos and quilts, but the things I cherish most are memories. I like to give gifts with significance attached to them, and I love books.
Journals or Fill in the Blank Books
Most people think their lives are boring, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! I love getting and giving journals. Some people may need journals with prompts.
My mother’s and my grandmother’s stories are irreplaceable treasures. If I hadn’t given each of them a spiral-bound set of cards with short, easy to answer questions, I would have missed some gems.
My mother is from England, and as a young bride her experiences arriving in America are noteworthy, even if she didn’t think so. For instance, one of the prompts was a question about the Fourth of July. My mother wrote about her first celebration of this holiday. My grandmother, her mother-in-law, told her there would be a picnic. They were to have the usual fixings, including hotdogs. My mother wrote, with typical British understatement:
“I’d never eaten a hotdog before. I’d read that the Indians ate dog, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it.”
Thinking about how the scenario must have played out, with my grandmother in charge and my reserved, soft spoken mother trying to fit in, cracks me up every time. My mother never mentioned this bit of family history until she was prompted by a journaling card. This one incident made me see my mother in a completely new light. Before, I hadn’t taken the time to imagine how strange it must’ve been to be young, newly married, away from family and everything familiar.
I learned from my grandmother’s responses about my father, as a toddler, climbing to the top of the windmill. My grandmother could do nothing about it. In those days, there was no 911. No one was around to help her, and besides, the structure was too fragile for an adult to climb up or she would have gone up after him herself. With no other recourse, she reprimanded him and yelled at him to get down right now. Then she went inside and closed her eyes while she gripped the edge of the kitchen sink, waiting for a scream. Can you imagine?
Recently my daughter and I were going through some of our old journals. We found plenty to laugh about, and a few things to cry about.
Books, Old or New
The older I get the more I appreciate things that are handed down. One of my greatest treasures is a set of books that was originally a Christmas gift given to my father when he was a boy.
Finding an old book with an inscription in it ties us to the past. Old favorites shared by generations through the ages makes me feel a certain kinship with people of the past that I have no connection to otherwise. There’s something magical about a book given as a Christmas gift, inscribed with love. The sharing of beloved tales is a marvelous gift.
A Book of Memories
One year my mother wrote a compilation of her life and made copies for all of us grown kids. What a gem! How can you put a value on this kind of gift?
If you have a young child in your life, a storybook accompanied by an audio recording of you reading the book aloud is sure to be a hit. My mother did this for my eldest when he was small. It’s not something he’s likely to ever forget.
Stories connect us in a way nothing else does.
What are some of your favorite gifts to give or receive?