Perfect Gifts

Can you say “EEEEIIEEEEIIIEEE?”

First of all, I am not sure how to spell it, and if you’ve never heard this particular expression squealed in delight in a certain tone, then you didn’t grow up female in my family. We said it as children to express a delight at something’s cuteness, and we continue to say it today. Somehow, we have passed it down to our daughters who will also squeal it when they happen upon something darling.

Remember how I mentioned sometimes finding the ‘perfect gift” for an adult? It doesn’t happen that often and when it does, the joy it brings is unmistakable.  Oh, there are wonderful gifts; the lovely stationery, the delicious book, the bath kits and the lotions.  Those are all much appreciated and bring satisfaction to the recipient. But then there are also those gifts that scream “ME” to the recipient and that announced “HER” to the giver. Those gifts are much harder to come by, and I’m afraid I’ve only managed to find that kind of gift for someone special a few times in recent years.  When you happen upon that kind of gift, you just know it, you feel it in your bones.  You would pay an arm and a leg for that gift because you want it that bad.

Yesterday Pat dropped off some gifts and inside a basket that I peeked in (okay, okay, I admit it now. I have pretended to wait, I have waited to send a thank-you note after Christmas which made it seem like I waited, but I HAVE NEVER waited to open a gift either mailed to me or given to me ahead of Christmas. 10 seconds after it arrives, that sucker is opened), inside that basket I just glanced in, was this darling Mary Engelbreit tea-cup ornament! Anybody that knows me knows I love Mary Engelbreit (ME) things, and that tea is my favorite drink of choice, even above the coffee which I use to start my engines each morning. And I also love Christmas ornaments.

And somehow, this Christmas, my friend Mary managed to hit the nail on the head with this Mary Engelbreit daily calendar and a Christmas ornament with a coffee cup on it (a close second in the favorite drink department).

And, speaking of perfect gifts, how about this Christmas stocking my mother gave me for my 50th birthday?  You would have to know the history of our Christmas stockings to appreciate this gift.  My mother made each of her children a Christmas stocking similar to this replica one.  We looked forward to those Christmas stockings being filled on Christmas morning so much so that we ran to them first thing when we got up.  Nestled in the toe of the stocking was a delicious orange. Peanuts still in their shells would fill the middle of the stocking and hard candy topped it off.  Candy canes might peek out of the top and during a particularly prosperous year there might even be a pair of gloves laying on top. (once they were handmade from old sweaters)

Once each child got married they took the stocking with them. I believe I remember some years when my mother was still filling the stocking for single sons, as I continue to do with ours for the single children who have left home. Early on in our marriage, my husband David filled my stocking with little trinkets like small bottles of perfume, nice writing pens, etc. but we lapsed in doing that after several children were on the scene, and concentrated our efforts on their stockings.  Still, I usually displayed my old childhood stocking.

Until last Christmas. 

Apparently, in our move to this new house last April one of the Christmas boxes got stowed in the basement where everything in it proceeded to get  damp and moldy. By the time I figured out where all the children’s stockings and our Advent calendar was, it was too late. The stockings were beyond salvage. The Advent calendar, however, survived a trip through the washer inside a pillowcase, with a little bleach added to the water and detergent.  Not only did the Advent calendar survive…and this is the part that gives me chills…but inside the dryer all the pieces escaped the pillowcase and landed on the upper portion of the calendar almost perfectly, including the baby Jesus smack-dab in the middle of it!  Just a few lone sheep remained in the drum of the dryer.

And we all know the meaning of lost sheep.

But, I digress.

My stockings were never found. Not in that box of moldy Christmas things, and not in the other boxes of Christmas decorations. The only things unaccounted for were my stockings; my childhood stocking and a beautiful “crazy-quilt” style stocking our mother had made for her adult daughters.  I was heartbroken; it was as if I’d lost a part of my childhood.  Well, my mother surprised me with this look-alike replica of my childhood stocking, in a similar color cloth and the black cord border. She even made me another crazy quilt stocking. Can you even imagine a more poignant reminder of a mother’s love for her child than that?  She may have thought the “gift” was the stocking, but the real gift was her time and her thoughtfulness, and the reminder of her selfless love.

Remember that as you peruse the store aisles full of their plastic, China-made concoctions this holiday season. Sometimes, the best gift of all is in the giving, and it isn’t a “thing” at all.

One thought on “Perfect Gifts

  1. Jane says:

    It is also too weird that we opened up our box of Christmas things and also had somehow had the same thing happen. All the stockings were covered in mold that stank to high heaven. My stocking from Mom came through the wash mostly okay…there are stains from the mold that won’t come out, and I was able to save one more, but the rest were so far gone they had to be thrown away. Must be a bad year for dampness and mold, plus our box was also in the basement. I am so happy that Mumsie was able to make you another one! And so glad that my stocking was able to be saved.

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