Gifts from Children Create Special Memories
Young Children Give from the Heart
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.
I wonder if my adult grandson remembers giving it to me…
Kids Often Give Handmade or Decorated Objects
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.
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.
I'll Bet This Made the Mail Carrier Smile
My Home Always has Room for Happy Memories
A small wooden plate sits atop a chest in my bedroom. On the plate are several painted rocks. I’ve had two of these since my own children were young. They glued smaller pebbles onto the larger rocks and painted them. One pebble became a ladybug sitting on a painted leaf. The other is a turtle, its shell painted in white squares.
The other rocks, painted in pastels, were given to me a few years ago by great-grandchildren. They look right at home on the wooden plate alongside the much older painted rocks and evoke more special memories for G.G.—the name that’s easier for small tots to say than “Great-Grandmother.”
Another gift from some of my great-grands that’s tucked away in a drawer awaiting repair is a handmade photo frame, its sides and backing made of pieces of bamboo glued together, its hanger a piece of wire. Unfortunately, one side came loose…I must remember to buy some glue and fix that frame so I can re-hang the photo (of the children, of course) where it belongs.
I have an assortment of drawings from the great-grands, many of them containing stick figure people, plus the trees and houses that children just learning to draw often include in their pictures. As their drawing becomes more accomplished, they may add dialogue balloons or write captions. I have a special scrapbook for these that will hold additional pages as I receive more drawings. Someday the youngest babies in the family will be holding crayons in chubby hands and making more pictures for G.G.
Young children don't strive for perfection when they give something they made or decorated to someone they love. Their gifts, possibly smudged with small fingerprints, come straight from the heart. Nothing is more valuable to me.
I have one “honorary” grandchild, now a teen. I’ve known her all her life, and she lived with me for two years. A miniature glass with a handle holds layers of brightly colored sand, and her name is on an attached label, its print fading. She gave this to me when she was about seven years old, and it’s a reminder of her childhood—a time when she too called me “Grandma.”
Guaranteed to Cause a Smile
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G.G.'s Art Collection
My two sons, both artistic, enjoyed drawing and painting as children. My daughter was more likely to cut and paste to make a paper collage, although as she grew older she learned cross-stitch and I was the recipient of some of her handiwork. Occasionally, my offspring would bring me samples of their work from school art class or something they drew or made “just for fun.”
One picture was created with paint on heavy textured paper, 11x14 inches—not canvas, but a simulation. The paint was brushed on thickly in earth tones. Was it a landscape? No. A still life? Not exactly.
The painting was of one object standing on end—a most unusual subject, but one which my younger son obviously thought worthwhile for a painting: a large pipe wrench. I’m sure he’d seen his father tackling some household repair with such a tool. He presented the painting to me with a flourish. I was duly impressed and kept it until he was grown up, when I gave it and several others back to him. (Adult children enjoy their youthful artwork, too.)
Gifts given to me by children are special treasures. Each one holds a memory that makes me smile.
You see, every surface and every wall in my home holds something with a memory attached. There are numerous photos of multiple generations of family and friends, with the overflow stored in albums and boxes. Handmade objects and pictures drawn by children are visible in every room.
Others are stored for lack of display space, and I love an excuse to take them out and look through them, whiling away an afternoon as I remember the small hands that held them and the oh-so-sweet childish kisses that accompanied the gifts. Precious memories, indeed. Children grow quickly into adolescents, then adults, but these mementoes bring back their childhoods to my mind with clarity.
Yes, gifts from children enrich my life and my home, each one evoking a special memory. I may have to dust more than a minimalist, but that’s a small price to pay for these irreplaceable treasures.
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