I’ve always been the bomb at giving presents to my family.
There was the year, around age twelve, that my dad gave me twenty five dollars to go Christmas shopping with, and I bought EVERYBODY candles. Mom? Overbearing pink rose scented candle. Dad? Layered blue “sea breeze” candle. Aunt? White candle that smells nothing like clean cotton, but is labeled as so.
You may know by now that I’m PRETTY health conscious. I was too busy eating pop rocks and rapidly consuming Dunkaroos when I was a kid, (oh my GOSH remember Dunkaroos?), to worry about sugar content.These weren’t even cotton wicked soy candles. They were most likely lead wicked, artificially dyed, poisonous pots of wax that I bought for $1.99 in the clearance section of Kmart.
There was the year that I was six and the concept of money did not yet exist to me, so I cut out pictures of animals from magazines, glued them on colored construction paper, and wrapped each one individually.
There was the year I gave my father five DVDs (that he asked for) and once he opened the first one, it was pretty apparent what the other five gifts shaped identically were going to be…(Since it wasn’t already apparent that he asked for five DVDs to begin with? What can I say? I deliver).
There was the year that I gave my high school boyfriend a very expensive box set of his favorite series, “That 70’s Show” and he gave me fuzzy socks…
But this is about my gift giving skills, not his. (Ahemm…Thanks for the socks?)
I have fine tuned my gift giving skills over the years, and obviously once I moved past the age of 14 and started working and making my own money, I was able to afford normal gifts. Um, I still give my dad DVDs every year. The man loves movies. This year it was Invictus and the last Bourne movie. I don’t even remember the name of the last one. Identity? Supremacy? Ultimatum? Democracy? Parliamentary?
There SHOULD be a movie called The Bourne Anarchy. I CALLED IT. Copyright. ©Findingravity. It’s official.
This year I decided to do something special for my mom because I wanted her to feel, well…special! I wanted her to not only know how loved, appreciated, and wonderful she is, but I wanted her to hear it from the masses. I won’t disclose the age my mom turned, but let’s just say it was definitely a milestone. For her ____th birthday, I contacted everybody that I could think of, who played a significant role in my mother’s life, and asked them to write a personal letter to her about their time and experiences knowing her. For months, I started conversations with my mother and waited patiently, hopeful that she would disclose information that would make it easier to contact these people. In some cases, a name was all that I needed to track these people down, but in other cases, it became more difficult to get in contact with people, some of which I have never met. My mom’s husband was a great help to me. He put me in contact with people whose email addresses I did not have or could not track down.
For the last two months, emails have strolled through my inbox, or have appeared in my mail box. It was exciting to see that even the busiest of people, who may have lost touch with my mom over the years, were willing to take ten minutes out of their busy lives to sit down and write to my mother for her birthday. My mom is such a lovely soul, and has given so much to so many. The letters were written by people of all ages, and varied in when they were significant in my mother’s life.
My mother was in a tragic car accident when she was pregnant with my brother, and in the years she has retold the story to me, she has always recollected one firefighter who she credits with saving her life. The man held her hand through the entire experience. After finding out the firefighter’s name and discovering that he was at one point the chief, I buckled down with some heavy duty Google action and found out he had retired. I sent an email to my town’s fire department and asked that they forward it along.
For weeks I heard nothing, and had given up hope of contacting this one unique individual. For all I knew, he was busy with family, relaxing in retirement, or simply did not want to discuss the accident. The last thing I wanted to do was inconvenience anybody, so I did not send a follow up email.
Weeks later, I saw his name appear in my inbox, and found out that the fire department had forwarded along the email. He was going to write the letter.
My eyes filled with tears. I did not even know this man, and I was not even alive when the accident that was responsible for my brother passing away twelve years later, occurred. Still, I felt very connected to this person.
Last night, I spent about an hour stuffing the beautifully written letters into envelopes that aunts, cousins, and friends had written. Blake and I drove over to my mom and her husband’s house at 7:30. My letter, explaining the project, was the first letter she read. Watching her face go from confused, to ecstatic, to completely emotional was better than any store bought gift I could have purchased.
She read each personal letter out loud, and we sat patiently in awe as she remembered all of the memories that came with each letter. I felt extremely lucky to have the opportunity to not only be able to do this for her, but to also sit and hear all of the kind words that others had to say about my mom. Her reaction to the firefighter’s letter is one I will never forget. Some of the letters were pages long, recounting very specific events. Some of the letters were only a paragraph, but each one extremely special in its own way.
*Thank you to anybody reading who participated in making my mom’s birthday so memorable. I am so glad that she means as much to all of you, as she does to me. I was truly honored to be able to find a way to unite all of the people that love my mom into one gift I know she will cherish for the rest of her life.