Gifts from Children Create Special Memories

Anyone who knows me well can confirm that I am a sentimental person. I save objects that have intrinsic value for me. These include not only hundreds of photographs collected throughout my lifetime, but handmade gifts from my children, grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren, as well as other special people.

If you’re only comfortable in a minimalist environment with sleek empty surfaces and mostly bare walls, you wouldn’t want to visit me. All of these “things” I display may look like clutter to some, but to me they’re memories. I don’t mind dusting an object that’s attached to a special remembrance and feeling. Sometimes I wish I’d lived in the same big house with an attic all my life. I’m sure that, by now, the attic would be full of “kept treasures.”

Recently, my eyes fell on a wooden plaque hanging over the guest bathroom’s outer doorknob. Its message: “I’ll be out in a minute.” A raised resin teddy bear sits at the bottom of the hanger. The bear was glued back onto the plaque after coming loose when it fell on the floor one day. Luckily, it didn’t break and looks much the same as it did when it was given to me more than twenty years ago.

It makes me smile even now to recall how that plaque came into my possession. When my daughter’s son was about seven, I went to visit them during the holiday season and stayed over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Their home had two bathrooms—the master bath and another off the central hall. My grandson and guests shared the hallway bath. That’s where I first saw the teddy bear plaque on the door announcing, “I’ll be out in a minute.”

I thought it adorable and said so, both to my daughter and my young grandson. In fact, I must have been quite enthusiastic in my praise of the door hanger—enough to make an impression on my grandson.

The next morning when we were gathered around the Christmas tree opening gifts, my grandson handed me a small package with that wonderful look of having been wrapped by a child. When I pulled apart the edges of paper, there was the teddy bear door hanger. Since I liked it so much, he told his mom he wanted to give it to me. It remains one of my favorite Christmas gifts and a cherished possession all these years later. It looks its age, a bit worn at the edges and the paint faded, but that only adds to its charm in my eyes.

A Child’s Creation is Priceless

Two other gifts that grandson gave me as a child are visible in my home—one in the kitchen, the other on a bookshelf.

Children often make things at school or church school, and one of the items he made was a jar or pot with the shape of a green bell pepper. On one side there was a humorous face with large nose. This “pepper” pot boasts a removable top that can be lifted off by the “stem.” I’m not sure of the medium used to produce this delightful veggie in a mold, but the unpainted interior looks chalky. The outside of the pepper is painted a bright green with features outlined in black. When I first lifted the top, I found a note inside warning me not to use it for food, only for display. I’ve dutifully abided by that advice.

Mr. Pepper, as I dubbed this creation, toppled from his shelf some years ago, and the bottom part broke into three large pieces. Fortunately, there were no shards or tiny bits, and it was easy to glue the pot back together. I would have been devastated to lose it.

Another gift from this grandson when he still saw the world through the eyes of a child is a discarded turtle shell he found and painted in a multitude of colors. There’s no pattern; it looks like abstract art as it resides on one of my bookcase shelves.

Each of these treasures has moved with me numerous times throughout the years, always packed carefully and displayed when unpacked. Every time I notice any of them, I think of this grandson as a young boy. An adult now, he lives in another state and I see him infrequently, but I when I look at something he gave me when he was a child, I think of his ready smile and expressive eyes.

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Mother’s Day, my birthday and Valentine’s Day often brought me lovingly handmade cards—some drawn and colored with crayons, others with hearts or flowers cut out of separate paper and pasted onto the card. Small hands wrote, “I love you”, words that were precious to me then, even more so now. Of course I saved them! Need you ask?

I’ve also saved the few letters written to me by children and grandchildren, most of which were penned at an early age before they learned to spell. What charming missives… One letter addressed simply to “Grandmother” above my address was a delight to take from my mailbox and read.

Not all letters deserving to be saved came from my own children or grandchildren. When my brother was twelve years old (I was twenty-one), he mailed a brief letter to me in November announcing that cash would be an acceptable Christmas gift that year. Occasionally I pull it from my box of treasures and laugh aloud just as I did when I first read it five decades ago.

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