Finding the right gift for someone is often very difficult. This year I found myself sorting through all the ideas of what to get my grandmother. She neither needs or wants anything.
Since nothing I could buy would tell her how much she meant to me, I decided to make her gift, one directly from the heart. I made her a book, hand-bound filled with moments that I cherished and a gift box to go along with the book. The first page reads:
I thought about the Christmas gift I wanted to get for you this year, but then I realized the perfect one couldn’t be purchased. You see, I wanted to give you a piece of what you have given me over the years.
I hope you enjoy this little gift set as much as I enjoyed making it. Merry Christmas!
The book continues…
You have always been more than a grandmother – in essence, you were my mom. You have always been the only mom-role that I had to look to for guidance. Not only that, but you showed me how to be a wife, and the dedication it takes to make a family work. You were who I wanted to be when I grew up – I’m still working on the growing up part.
I know that not everything was peachy, but when it wasn’t, we were given the opportunity to grow and learn together.
You stood up for me and had my back when it mattered most – even if I wasn’t in the right. You taught me that we don’t just quit and give up when things get hard, even if that road is sometimes harder than we could ever imagine. But most importantly, you didn’t give up on me. It makes a real difference to know that someone, anyone, believes in you.
You have given me more than you know. I decided to share some of my most cherished memories with you this year so that you realize how much you influenced my life. I miss the car rides into town. I’d go with you to the bank so that I would get a sucker from the teller at the bank’s drive-thru. Agway was always my favorite store because they had the best chocolate milk ever.
Even if it was just to the gas station, when Cujo would come along for the ride. It was funny to watch her growl and bark through the car windows.
I remember thinking that I could sing, and decided to let everyone hear my beautiful voice. That was the summer I turned the old silo into my play house. You even gave me curtains to put up for my “windows.” Jay would laugh at me because I was playing in the silo where birds would poop. Thinking back, it was kinda yucky, but I survived without any bird flu illness. I would always be looking for egg shells that may had fallen from the new babies that were hatching.
Memories of picking icicles off the house and barn (only the clean ones) to make homemade ice cream. And in the summer, having fresh peaches over a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. Breakfast for dinner was always a treat. I still wake up on Sunday mornings and wish for some of your waffles.
Thank you for taking me on all those trips to the cemeteries and letting me help plant the new flowers. I have fond memories of our long conversations during the rides there and back. I listened as you told me the story about your parents being buried on opposite sides of the tracks. As we’d drive through town, you tell me what the buildings used to be and how a 100-year Indian treaty went by too quickly. Caring for the cemeteries is something that I still do whenever we visit home, and it makes me happy to pass that value on.
I remember going to Grandma Trevett’s house. You never wanted me to eat anything there. Who could ever forget the green chair that sat in the parlor? Boy, there was a lot of dust on that thing. I was fascinated by those little crocheted dolls she would make. She gave me one at some point. It was green with white ruffles. I’ve been looking for someone who knows how to make them because I would love to have one again. I guess that may be one of those things not carried forward by younger generations (myself included).
I will always cherish our walks up the dirt road, past the pond and into the woods (Yes, even though I complained). And of course, hay season… we all remember that well enough to do it our sleep.
Every winter I think of all the wood we had to cut and stack. Although I do recall complaining about that also, it did teach me that working together can be fun – and it’s a great bonding experience (from an older perspective).
I loved to pick out a book, climb up on your lap and listen to you read. I even remember being sad when I finally got too big to sit on your lap.
There is so much more I could thank you for, but then this letter would just go on forever. This year, I have put together a special gift just for you…. A story book for all those times when you would read to me.
Making this book is my way to say thank you for making all those little things turn into the most important moments in time. I have also painted you a box. Inside this box are pieces of the memories you have given me over the years, and I could think of nothing better than to give some of those wonderful moments back to you.
The flower on the top of the box is because Grandpa taught us to always make sure you had fresh flowers every day. I used to love picking your bouquets with both Grandpa and Jay, and I would get excited to pick black-eyed susan’s from the gravel pit. I thought it was the coolest thing when you would put the Queen Anne’s Lace into water with food coloring and I’d watch the flowers change colors. Even now, I do take the time to stop and smell the roses, especially when the morning dew is still on their baby petals.
I don’t think this even needs an introduction. Your mixer has been a part of virtually every memory of the holidays, and just a part of our daily life with you. It reminds me of watching you make the best cookies ever! I did learn the most important step: leaving enough batter or dough to enjoy the bowl or lick the beaters. I remember carefully watching to see how much batter you would leave in the bowl. Whenever I make cookies, I never forget this vital step…. Everyone gets their own spoon!
A quart of strawberries brings back memories of the what seemed an endless car ride. The long ride was worth it when we got to the U-Pick field. Of course, I probably ate more than I put in the containers and my jeans would always come home with red stains. The whole trunk of the car would be filled with berries by the time we were done picking. Then came the task of making the jam. I got the job of hulling the berries (which I did notice that you would occasionally hull them even after I did). I liked watching the berries get mashed into a strawberry soup, and then turn into the best jam. That memory is why I still make strawberry jam. There is nothing better than a slice of your homemade bread with butter and jam; that is why I love strawberry season.
A deck of playing cards for all those times we would play game after game of Rummy. If you ask others, I play the meanest game of Rummy around… and that is because of the numerous hours you spent playing cards with me. You taught how to win and more importantly, not to be a sore loser (most of the time).
A clock to represent a single moment in time. All those moments that created magic and happiness, each day. I cherish our “dates” when just you and I would go into the city to see a movie. Or when we would stop to get custard cones while running errands.
N0 matter how busy life on the farm got, you always, always, made time for me. I can never thank you enough for that.
The last item I give to you is the most important. A heart to serve as a reminder of how much I love and appreciate you, and all that you have done for me.
With all my love and more…
I could not be there in person this Christmas morning, but I was there in heart. I was told there was not a dry eye in the house as my Aunt read the miniature book out loud to my grandmother. On Christmas, as well as almost any other day, it is so easy to forget what the most important things in life are. It can be a challenging task to find ways to tell each other that we love and cherish the times spent together…. I think as a society, we are taught to express those feelings with gifts. A gift of the heart is always cherished the most.