Spring time seems to be a time of year when gift-giving is big topic. There is Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, weddings, anniversaries, and graduations. Not to mention the birthdays and baby showers and wedding showers! It’s no wonder we so often hear of people looking for gift ideas.
What I want to talk about, though, are the kind of gifts you can’t buy in a store. Let me explain.
A few years ago, I started to make clothes for fashion dolls. Because of that, I retrieved from my father’s house the boxes with my old doll “stuff”. What I expected to find was the dolls and accessories I played with almost 50 years ago. What I did not expect, however, were the memories stirred up by the sight and feel of those bit of plastic and fabric.
As I opened the boxes and removed each item, I found myself thinking back to my excitement and pleasure when they were new. There were the clothes with that manufacturer’s label inside, each of which came in a bright pink package, although the package is long gone. There were the tiny shoes and purses and all the other ready-made things.
What really started me reminiscing, however, were the homemade items: clothing for the doll, made by mother with pieces of fabric recycled (who knew that word back then?) from old shirts of my father’s, old dresses of hers, and bed linens too worn to be used as bedding.
Holding those tiny garments, made so carefully, made me start thinking about the gifts my mother gave me. She was the one who taught me to sew, coaching me through constructing my first garment, a gray and orange jumpsuit for my doll (and, yes, that was still in the boxes too!). She gave me other gifts too, although I did not realize it at the time. My ability to write a well-crafted letter, whether of compliment or complaint, came from her. I learned to comparison shop by going with her to different stores looking for the best price, although I didn’t realize at the time that I was learning it.
Of course, that got me started thinking about gifts from the other people in my life. My father gave me his love of photography, a hobby whose equipment has changed through the years, although the skills needed remain much the same. It is probably from him as well, that I enjoy crossword puzzles and word games (I have been called a “vicious” Scrabble© player by some!)
My great-aunt Tillie (yes, that was her name, and yes, she was great) first taught me to crochet. I can recall sitting next to her on her sofa as she patiently taught me the first basic stitches. Crocheting is an activity I still enjoy, and I think of Tillie as I work with my yarn and hooks..
These people gave me the gift of creativity, determination, and perseverance. There are so many others who have given me gifts as well. There were the people I met in college, who let me see that others could value my friendship and my affection.
Even today, I am still receiving gifts. I have friends who give me the gift of their friendship, and their support and love during difficult times. I have a husband, whose presence in and of itself is a gift, because of the special person that he is.
No, the gifts I have received are not the kind with a dollar-and-cents price tag, or wrapped up in pretty paper. But I think they are the more valuable kind. They have given me memories, and they have helped make me who I am today.