One Christmas season, my mother said to me “don’t give me anything else if I can’t wear it or eat it.” Mother spoke out of her practical nature. She was cut from the cloth of her father, always sensible and direct. Mother had reached an age where she didn’t need nor want anything else. It wasn’t a gray mood, just how she wanted things. That was pretty much how I gifted her anyway, so we were good.
Then the day came when she shortened her directive to “If I can’t eat it, don’t give it to me. I have all the clothes I can ever wear.” Now that kind of made me sad as I remembered how her eyes would light up over gifts of new clothes. This time I thought it was a gray mood and I didn’t like it. But as is often the case with my assumptions, I assumed wrong.
Here I am nearing my 80th year and now perfectly understand Mother’s thinking. I have too much stuff and I don’t want any more stuff. All that I once loved having around me now seems too much. If I were to do things over, I’m pretty sure I would be a minimalist. I have a closet full of clothes that I still enjoy. It’s either wear them or give them away. The shopping gene was left out of my female development so I prefer wearing my closet favorites. Not to say I won’t enjoy a new thing here or there or replace something worn too long.
It has been said by various philosophers in a variety of ways that the best gift you can give someone is a gift of yourself. One of my dearest friends, who is also my housekeeper, did that for me this past birthday. When she finished cleaning, she surprised me by saying it was a gift for my birthday. It was wonderful! I felt so loved.
Another friend surprised me by dropping off a little birthday cake. That was special because a birthday doesn’t feel complete without a cake. It’s like the cherry on top of a sundae or the period at the end of a sentence.
Another friend called and sang Happy Birthday to me. What a smile maker! We talked about why we were never asked to join the choir.
Via social media and US mail, I was sent birthday greetings. Some had comments that touched me deeply. I read them several times.
My daughter and son by marriage understand that I am at this special place in my life and for Christmas and birthday made a significant donation to the local Humane Society. This was a perfect gift. It gave help to animals in my name. Animals without homes or special needs have my heart. It was a gift that made me teary.
When Mother gave me her new rule for gift-giving years ago, I didn’t much like the rule. Yet now, I understand. It was not a decision made out of depression, rather what felt good and right for a particular time in her life. I am now at that place. No more storing up things here on earth, but enjoying the things I already have and love.
It amazes me how much more like my mother I get with every passing day. And I like it. Hebrews 13:5 says to be content with what you have. I am content.
The greatest gift is a portion of thyself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The greatest gift in life is to be remembered. –Ken Venturi