ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Most Unusual Personal Gift

Updated on March 21, 2013

It was a most unusual and personal gift. For its size, it was as light as air in its beautifully wrapped box. As I unwrapped it, I guess I thought it was the typical gift card or gift certificate, disguised in a large box to mask its identity.

Our family is quite creative when it comes to disguising gifts. We've been known to add a brick to a box for weight, or to hide smaller gifts inside the cardboard tube of a roll of toilet paper. The curse in our family is when you are the chosen one; the one who gets a gift wrapped in twenty layers (or more) of gift wrap. It happens at random so each celebration is cause for concern as we wonder who will be the recipient of the curse this time. You never know because it’s never planned. It just happens. And oddly, it only happens to one of us, each holiday. It’s safe to say that our family has some strange traditions. We are a family that loves to laugh and we enjoy a good tease better than most.

These were the thoughts that drifted through my mind as I looked at this rather large gift that weighed almost nothing. Could it be that I was the chosen one this time? Was this the gift that would leave us in tears of laughter, as I peeled off layer after layer of the paper that kept the real gift hidden from view?

What a production I made as I slowly opened the taped ends of the first layer. If they were going to watch me undo all those layers, I was going to make it painful for them. I’m like that sometimes – a little defiant and rebellious.

To my surprise, there wasn't a second layer. Underneath the beautiful wrapping was a plain cardboard sleeve. Three sides were taped to contain the mysterious content. Protruding from the fourth side was something that looked like any run-of-the-mill craft paper. I gently grasped the end and pulled. What I discovered left me speechless.

This most unusual gift was magnificent: a hand-crafted, three dimensional collage of my life. It contained objects that depicted anything and everything I had ever done or loved. There was the lapel button from the non-profit I started in 1994 and the shoe from my first Barbie doll. Ah, look, a piece of amethyst from my rock collection and a string of sinew from my leather-crafting days. Wow, look at that little dream-catcher and hey, there’s Yanni, one of my favorite musicians and Neil Young and Stevie Nicks too. Wait, what’s that? Ha ha ha, it’s a Band-Aid and a syringe from my days as a young phlebotomist. And there’s Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon from my days as a Cancer Registrar and a box tab from my favorite chocolate-covered raisins and an ad for my favorite coffee. There’s a piece of fabric from my favorite dress and a newspaper clipping from a political op-ed I wrote and my dog and, a silhouette of my favorite tree. And yes, there it is, the POW/MIA lapel pin for those I didn't forget – the ones that haven’t come home.

The most unusual gift - the collage of my life.
The most unusual gift - the collage of my life.

Seeing and touching all the treasures in this collage was such fun, and then it hit me. This was not a gift to take lightly. It was a gift from my sister-in-law: a quiet observer of my life who had really listened all those years. I thought about the many months she must have spent collecting all the images or objects that made up the collage. Only someone who had really heard me could have done it this well. Only someone who had cared enough to listen, to really hear me, could have made such a magnificent gift. And I began to think. What would a collage of my life look like if someone else had made it? What do others know about me?

This was a pivotal moment in my life, for I realized that each time we speak, we create an image of who we are. Each action becomes part of the fabric - a strand in the woven landscape of what we have become. Our involvement in the world, in things we care about - a stroke of color on the canvas of our character. I understood, in that pivotal moment, that I am the source, the creator of the image others have of me. What surrounds me tells others who I am and what I care about. And I wondered, does this collage tell the story I would like it to tell?

I have this most unusual gift hanging in a place of honor. I look at it often and remind myself that the dash between the date we are born and the date we die is the canvas of our life’s collage. And I ask myself – what do I need to do to ensure that it tells a story I can be proud of?

What would a collage of your life say about you?

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)