Unexpected Gifts For Children
My first bra was a hand-me-down from my neighbors in the canyon where I grew up. (Sorry male co-workers, TMI.) Yet despite what you might be thinking, I know I have been blessed.
We were not rich (as you likely guessed above), we didn’t have new things often, we didn’t live in huge houses. Often times I was in hand-me-down clothes or something we bought on our once-a-year shopping trip at the swap meet, which was always a fun family adventure!
Christmas gifts were not Minus consumer driven gifts, but they were more the American Express “priceless” variety.
There are many childhood memories of gifts that have shaped who I am. Three stick out to me and they all help me count my blessings today.
The Gift of Chores:
One gift was the day I washed dishes with my mom around the age of 5. (I am sure that she had to rewash what I did but she always was okay with me helping.) I remember me on a step stool next to her, chatting about silly kid things with the excitement of most little ones. I can’t recall what I said prior to this incident but I remember a point where she got very quiet, stopped and leaned into me and gently whispered in my ear, “I will always be your best friend.”
This was the first gift I remember receiving.
The thing that amazes me is she was right. We rarely fought. I really only remember one time in my teens where we didn’t have money to afford the clothes that everyone else had and I was upset. Like any teen, I wanted to fit in and thought monetary things were the way to do it. Well, thanks to my parents I had to learn other ways, like being accountable, being kind to others, being supportive. My mom strove to be true to her word. She showed up for me. She worked at my high school, my first college, drove to Oregon to see me dance in shows. She called me often and racked up her phone bills for years. She never let me lose touch, always wanted to know about my life and just talked to me as a human being about whatever I felt was important.
Does it mean that my mom was the cool mom that let me do anything I wanted? No. There were rules, there were guidelines, there was structure, there were chores but it was part of being a family and that was expected. And the gift of having dishes to wash, floors to vacuum and beds to make in a house where I was warm and loved. Not all people have that. I’ll say that again.
Not all people have that.
That basic human need of shelter is a gift my parents gave me along with bonding during those chores to keep it livable.
Today my mom is still someone that I reach out to first when anything happens good or bad. We can tell in the hello of each other’s voice whether we are okay or not. We can tell without words when we need a verbal hug. She is there for me. She doesn’t judge me, she is my biggest cheerleader and an incredible friend.
And someone that gave me chores.
Gift of Heartbreak
My second memory is with my father.
I had been heartbroken by my first crush in high school. I laid on my bed crying, and my dad walked in and just sat next to me for a while gently rubbing my back to calm me. He didn’t try to fix it, he didn’t try to give me a lecture on what love is. He just was there in silent support.
When he could tell I was ready to talk the only thing I remember was his words, “He doesn’t know what he’s missing, he doesn’t deserve you.” With my dad’s support and his voice in my ear for years, I had the confidence to get out of relationships where I wasn’t appreciated or treated poorly. I understood that it was okay to cry when heartbroken but to be strong and know my self-worth. I believed in what he said and knew that I deserved to be treated well. My dad is someone who is strong, kind, and I know would do anything for me. And he showed me how to be strong and kind.
He taught me how to be independent and believe in myself.
As he walked me down the aisle of my wedding and I adjusted myself to get on the runner, as my heels were sticking in the grass, he said, “Don’t go too fast, I’m not ready yet.”
I am so lucky that he loves me so unconditionally and that he is a father who hugged me on a daily basis and helped me understand what I deserve. With him behind me, I learned how to get through heartbreak as life is unfortunately sprinkled with it. The gift of being shown that you are worth the best is an incredible thing to have.
Gift of Song
My last memory I wish to share is one of our family driving around in the car we called FeFe, an old, beat-up red car. We were singing as a family the Christopher Robin song by Kenny Loggins. We were singing at the top of our lungs not caring about harmonizing just enjoying the ride. The windows down, summer wind blowing in our hair. We must have looked crazy, but that never crossed our mind because we were having fun. Giggling as we sang about Winnie the Poo getting his nose stuck in a honey jar.
Music has played a huge part in my life because of my parents. Music brings me joy. I’m a dancer, choreographer and have a connection to music that warms my soul. When I hear my dad play guitar, it brings a calmness to my life. There are so many moments in life that I connect to music because my parents gave me appreciation, from no-nuke rallies with bands protesting in music to live concerts to singing on summer nights in the car driving back from a day of swimming at the lake, to dancing to Michael Jackson in the living room. Those times related to music were definite gifts.
For You and Your kids
For those of you lucky to be parents in any capacity, as you buy, make or bake gifts for your family, please remember it really is about the daily love you give your kids. The support you offer is a gift. The best gift in fact. If you weren’t able to buy them the top new toy, don’t be hard on yourself. You are giving your child/children the gift of you as a safety net. That will never be able to be purchased. The gift of love will last far longer than the troll doll, and friendship helps them live a blessed life.
Merry Christmas everyone! My gift to you is a virtual hug!
And to my mom and dad, I love you, thank you for the gifts you give me every day of my life:)