My mother’s philosophy on gift giving tends toward the mundane. It was my father, before his death, who would come up with the “wow” gifts for each of us that would be waiting under the tree on Christmas morning. My mother supplied the other packages (pajamas, turtlenecks), and would fill stockings with staples – socks, underwear, toothbrushes. When we asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she answered with her own list of basics -nylon stockings, hand cream, and the perfume she liked best.
I have come to appreciate her style of gift giving. I think of it every time I put on a dress and hunt through my drawers for stockings without runs in them. I never find any. I go barelegged or I change into trousers and socks. My mother understood that a wonderful gift is the thing you need to get you through the day.
My mother’s health and memory are now failing and she doesn’t get around like she used to. Although she loves being with her grandchildren and likes it when we take her out to restaurants, dining with her presents challenges: her hearing is poor and unless we look right at her and speak directly to her, she interrupts everyone’s dialogue with “What was that? What did he say?”
With her fading memory, she doesn’t remember what she has done or who she has talked to or what her friends are doing these days. But she has this: she thinks my children are amazing and she loves them. She tells me, often, what wonderful people they are and then enumerates the reasons why. And then she tells me that I am a good mother.
When I think about the gifts my mother has given me, I realize that her simple reminder that I am a good mother is perhaps the gift I need most these days.
What gift have you given or received that helped you “get through the day?”
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