A Most Unusual Personal Gift
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?
- For An Awesome Brother
Some girls are just blessed to have a little brother that they can look up to. Their brother becomes a man that every girl wants to marry, every mother adores, and all men respect. This, is a tribute to my awesome little brother.
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.
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.