Memories - The Greatest Gift of All

Tis the season and let me tell you, you don't have to spend a lot of money to make someone happy. Sometimes you don't have to spend anything more than time. Last year some of my sisters made and sent me a handmade gift. I treasure them and they are on display year around. (Don't ask me about the gifts I started and have yet to finish for them. I deserve a spot in the Sister Hall of Shame.) Anyhoo...

I received a holiday box from my mom yesterday. In it was a wrapped gift for Steve and I (which we'll open on Christmas) and a beautiful guardian angel snowglobe (now on display and bringing joy). Also inside that box were three unwrapped items. Items my mom had found tucked away in some box in some closet or attic. They only cost her the time it took to root them out and box them up.

The first item was a 'letter' sweater I had had in my senior year of high school, specifically honoring my years in choir and a select vocal/dance group. It made me smile. It used to be one of my favorite things and I'd forgotten all about it.

The second item was a scrapbook that my Grandma Miller made me. It was filled with pictures of moi as a kid, from grade school to high school. There were also newspaper articles and pictures of events I'd been involved in. Like the only two 'pageants' I ever particpated in in my life (she dragged me into those if memory serves) and a few school plays I starred in (more my speed) and pictures of me with the high school cheerleading squad. OMG, I weighed like 75 pounds! Hello stick legs! The scrap book gave me the warm fuzzies. Not because of the contents so much, but because my grandma had put so much time and thought into it.

The third item was an article of clothing. A satiney plum nightgown with colorful embroidery. My mom's note said: Do you remember this? It was your Grandma Childer's favorite nightgown.

I promptly burst into tears.

Grandma Childers was my mom's mom. She was the shining star in my life until I was nineteen and her light went out (so to speak). I remember sitting on the patio with her shucking corn and peas and listening to her screwball stories (like the time she swore she was chased by an alien ship). I remember how she made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with her waffle iron. How she made carmels and popcorn balls from scratch during the holidays. I remember her pouring salt in her beer. How we watched the Miss America Pageant every year and kept our own score. How she hung clothes on the clothes line in the summertime clad only in polyester bermuda shorts and her bra. "What?" she'd say. "I'm hot and it's just like a bathing suit top."

And I remembered her wearing that nightgown and smelling of Dove soap.

Grandma has been gone a long time, although she sometimes visits me in my dreams. I live far and away from all of my family so I'm kind of islolated from family stuff and mostly speed through each day in hyperdrive... work, work, work. I couldn't believe the impact that nightgown had on me. The feeling and memories it stirred. I was touched by my mom's thoughtfulness and a piece of clothing that belonged to wacky, wonderful woman who I loved very much. Talk about an amazing gift.

What's the best gift you've ever received? Or at least, one of the one's that touched you most?

Comments

ElsieHogarth said…
Ohh Beth, that's so sweet of your Mom to send you such great gifts.

When my Papa Maurice passed away, my Dad received his gold coined cuff links and had them made into rings for Laurie and I. We wear them whenever we can just to feel him a little closer to us.
Anonymous said…
Well, I just got it and you reminded me I haven't properly thanked my sister yet. I know I'm gonna bawl but here goes:

My dad was a bomber pilot in WWII. He flew alot of hair-raising missions and had alot of near misses. Once he literally had to break his plane upon landing in order to save the life of one of his crewmembers. He won several awards.

Well, all my life he had this little clock on his desk, about two-inches square and encased in Lucite. Turns out this clock was from the control panel of a B-24 Liberator. He never confirmed this, but I suspect it was the plane he had to break (the only thing a pilot dreads more than the loss of his crew is the loss of his plane). I always loved that clock. I'm a total WWII whore and I had all my father's gear. But not the clock!

When my dad died in 1996, my oldest brother, Michael got the clock. I was jealous and I researched buying one for myself, but they cost the earth and it wasn't the same as having my father's. Then Michael died in 1998, and my other brother, Robbie, got the clock.

Horrifically, last year, Robbie died. And beneath the crushing grief of losing all my wonderful men, I worried about what had become of the clock.

Turns out my sister had retrieved it from his things when she went to help his wife clean out. On Thanksgiving, she gave it to me.

It's on my desk, and I'm very, very grateful she didn't have to die for me to get the clock *gg*.

So, my best Christmas gift is owning a family memento that was passed down and cherished by every one of my siblings. I don't have anything else that has.

Now I gotta go point my sister here so she can see what this meant to me. Thanks for making me verbalize and inscribe it!

And the happiest of holidays to you, cherie! You da best.
Beth Ciotta said…
Elsie, I love that your dad had the cuff links made into rings for you and your sister (Laurie-my-cherished-stalker). What a beautiful thought! Happy Holidays, my friend!

Ann... ANN... Just when I thought I was all cried out. Darn you. Well, not really. Bless you. That was an incredible, sentimental story and I'm glad that you shared it with us. I'm so sorry about your brothers. Bless your thoughtful sister. How wonderful, as you said, that you now have something that was your dad's and passed on from each sibling... to you. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Ann. Here's to family!
Mary Stella said…
What a beautiful story, Beth, and even more beautiful are the memories.

My favorite gift is similar to Elsie's. The pinky ring that I wear on my right hand is made from an antique collar button. It held the collar of a tuxedo shirt and was part of a set of formal shirt studs and cufflinks that belonged to my mother's grandfather or great-grandfather. Anyway, my grandmother had given the set to her husband (Mom's dad). When he died, my grandmother, not having any sons, gave the set to my father, her son-in-law.

When Dad died, Mom gave the shirt studs and cufflinks to my brother and had the collar button made into a ring for me. I wear it every day and only remove it for manicures or if I'm doing something that could harm the mother-of-pearl.

There are a lot of loving memories in this ring.
Beth Ciotta said…
Did I know that whole story, Mary? I don't think so. Wow. Talk about a ring with a past. Thank you for sharing that touching story. Of course, you know I will be studying your pinkey ring now with renewed interest when I see you in a few weeks. :) Happy Holidays, good friend!
Anonymous said…
It wasn't a X-mas gift. Actually, the two best gifts I received were a handmade calendar made up of pictures from my wedding and a simple notebook that held family recipes from my aunt (who I think makes the best desserts ever). Jordan
Julia Templeton said…
Lovely story, Beth! Had me choked thinking about my grandma who has been gone a lot of years now.

As to great gifts, last year my daughter put three pictures into one frame. The picture in the middle has her holding her little brother for the first time. She was 18 months old, naked as can be (I could never keep clothes on that girl), and she's holding her three day old brother as though he will break. On either side of that precious picture is a current picture of both kids, all grown up. I love that gift and it takes pride of place in my office, directly above my computer...right next to another great gift, an inspiration tray one of my best buds sent to me about a year ago. :)
Anonymous said…
Hi Beth,

Well now I'm crying and very jealous but extremely happy for you that you have that nightgown. I too am visited by grandma in my dreams and miss her greatly. I went to her grave in September and stood there and wept like a baby. It's amazing how much you can miss someone after all these years. I have the exact same memories of her and was just talking about the ham and cheese sandwiches. I have a waffle iron and figured out I could flip the plates over and they are flat on the other side...so I have made grandma sandwiches for the boys. I miss her horribly and I think if I could have one wish, it would be to have her back. Or to be just like her someday. My best Christmas was when she surprised us at Christmas in Florida one year. I miss you and wish we could spend the holidays together. I love you. Brenda
Joyce said…
When I found out I was about to become a grandmother I decided to do a photo album for each of my sons. Little did I realize what a massive undertaking I was getting involved in. It wasn't scrapbooking just pictures. But trying to get the same type of pictures, same number of pictures was overwhelming. It was worth it though when I saw their delight at Christmas time.
Beth Ciotta said…
Jordan, those were very thoughtful gifts and I can understand why you'd treasure them. :)

Julie, I LOVE that story! Very creative and sweet of Korie to gift you with those specific pictures. :) Your computer area sounds like a special place indeed! Happy Holidays!!
Beth Ciotta said…
BRENDA!!! How wonderful to see another one of my beautiful and talented sisters posting here. Your post made me smile. :) I can't believe you made Grandma's famous flat-as-a-pancake ham and cheese sandwiches for the boys! Ah... tradition. :) I remember well the year Grandma surprised us with a special Christmas visit. Mostly I remember how surprised and overjoyed we were to see her.

Although I can't be with you physically this year, you know I'm with you in spirit. I love and miss you!
Beth Ciotta said…
Joyce, I can imagine how time consuming that project was, but I'm telling you, your sons will treasure those books forever. Bless you for taking the time and thought! Happy Holidays!

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