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Five Great Gifts for Your Mum. Why Wait for Mother's Day?
As a fully paid up member of the sandwich generation, I’ve seen Mother’s Day from two different angles.
As a mother I enjoy being made a fuss of.
I know that the right way to treat your mother is to give her your time where you can, and your love and understanding on a constant basis. That doesn't solve the problem of birthdays, Christmas, and of course Mother's day. As a daughter, I’ve struggled each year to think of something my mother would appreciate, something tangible that she could enjoy unwrapping.
This year is different.
My mother died just before Christmas, so for the first time there is no need to wrack my brains. I don’t need to do anything at all. I can just sit back and wait for Mother’s Day to come to me.
My children won’t be reading this. They spend a lot of time on the web, but it seems to be mostly on youtube and sites I’ve never heard of. But maybe there are some children out there, who like me are struggling to find the right gift for Mother’s Day, if so, then this list is for you. Of all the gifts I gave my Mum for Mother’s day, these were the five she most enjoyed.
- Something to Read.
- Something to Love
- Something to Keep Her Warm.
- Something Fun to Do.
- Something to Make Things Easier.
I left home in 1975. My days were pretty full, but at weekends I really missed home and family, so much so that I often took the three hour bus journey home so we could spend Sundays together. Sundays were a lazy day in our house when we’d get up late and sit around in our dressing gowns. My Dad was often away from home on business and so it would just be my Mum, my Grandmother and me. We all loved to read, so Sunday lunch became a sort of unofficial literature hour, when we’d all talk about the books we’d been reading. Mothers Day 1976 was the first time I’d ‘gone home’ for Mother's Day, and so, of course, the gift I brought was a book.
Actually that’s something of an understatement.
The gift I brought was a book called ‘’, the first in a series by The Game of KingsDorothy Dunnett, who had by this time become (and still remains) my favorite author.
My mother devoured the book and passed it on to my grandmother. We all read to the end of the series, (6 books) and then, to my surprise, we all started again, knowing that the enormously rich, detailed world of the books (sixteenth century Europe) would reveal even more on the second reading.
Just before she died, my mother reminded me of how much she’d enjoyed that book, and how often, over the next 35 years, she’d enjoyed visiting it again and again. If your mother, like mine loves to read, and especially if she loves history, The Game of Kings is one of the best gifts you can give her. (And just in case my chidren are reading this, my paperback (The Game of Kings) has fallen apart, the hardback version would be great, thanks)
More Books By Dorothy Dunnett
The story of Francis Crawford of Lymond, possibly the most complex and charistmatic hero in fiction, begins here. Read Queens Play, the Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, the Ringed Castle and Checkmate to follow his story across Europe and through 15 years of turbulent, meticulously researched history.
My son was born in 1991. In the years since I had left home, my Mother and I had had our differences, and some at times had seemed irreparable. When I became pregnant, things changed. Noone else seemed to understand as well as she did, and we became very close.
By this time my father had died and it was clear there was a huge gap in my mother’s life. She felt she needed someone to look after her, but what was clear to anyone who saw her with her grandson, was that she needed someone, or something, to care for.
And so in 1992 my Mother's Day gift to her was just that. A cat.
It sounds so ordinary, but that cat transformed my mother’s life.
I know what you’re thinking. Could she not have got more satisfaction from being involved in my life and my sons? No. Not really. She was involved. She did all the grandmotherly things. She saw us every day.. We were very much part of each others lives, but it wasn’t the same. The cat, a female ragdoll, was small and nervous, it had been bullied. It needed comfort, it would only sleep lying in the crook of her arms. The cat needed her, and for the next twenty years they sustained each other, until in November the cat died, and two weeks later, now in her 79th year, my Mum followed.
Giving an animal as a gift isn’t something to be done lightly, but when it’s appropriate, it can be life changing.
If you’ve ever spent time looking through a photograph album, and realized you don’t know who half the people are, you’ll understand the purpose of scrapbooking. Gathering your photographs together, adding decoration and writing about the people, the events, the location and what it meant to you, transforms a book full of bad pictures of strangers into a family treasure. My mother was an avid crafter all her life, but as she got older she hated the mess involved and couldn’t be bothered to get out paper, embellishments, glue etc. so one year, I don’t remember which, I bought her a piece of software called Scrapbook Max.
Scrapbook Max allows you to build scrapbook pages using a computer. Some people say it’s not so satisfying as doing it by hand, but it makes a lot less mess, and, so long as you already have the computer, it’s a lot cheaper. My mother took to digital scrapbooking like a duck to water, she loved it, although she had no actual computer experience. She went beyond the program, joined numerous digital scrapbooking sites and two years ago I bought her Photoshop elements. She told everyone she was far too old to learn to use it, and then proceeded to turn out stunning scrapbook pages, not just for herself, but for our relatives and friends. She was still using the software to build scrapbook pages right up to a few days before she died.
I rarely bought my mother clothes because we didn’t agree on what suited her. I don’t think that’s unusual with mothers and daughters. One year however, I saw a wrap on amazon and bought it for her on impulse. It was black and trimmed with fur pom poms. A silly thing really, but fun.
Had I realised just how useful a wrap is, I’d have bought two, and certainly I’d have bought one earlier. From that day the wrap was a constant friend. She wore it on chilly evenings, she wore it when we went out, and sometimes she wrapped it round her shoulders when she sat up in bed, because she thought it looked stylish. I remember we once visited a color consultant who told her she was ‘an autumn’ and that she shouldn’t wear black. Her response was typical. ‘Nonsense’, she said. ‘Black is elegant’, and with her fur trimmed wrap, she always proved the point.
In 2009 we celebrated Mother’s Day in the USA for the first time and it seemed strange, being in May rather than March. Finding a gift that year wasn’t difficult at all, I bought her a Kindle.
It was the answer to so many problems. On trips she could carry her whole library with her, and since she read quickly, that meant she could have reading material even on a long journey. The Kindle was readable, even in bright sunlight (very necessary on our visits to Florida) and the re-sizable text meant she could read even in low light, or when she forgot her reading glasses. The kindle was lighter than many of the thick, heavy books she read, and when she got really tired, she could simply plug in an earpiece and most of the books would read themselves to her. The kindle fitted easily in her handbag and worked anywhere. She particularly enjoyed taking it on trips to the hairdresser, where she could browse the kindle shop for a book, download it and begin reading, all while waiting for the stylist. And if people thought it strange to see someone almost Eighty years old with the latest technology, well, she really enjoyed that, too.
My mother was no saint, and there were times when we disagreed, argued and generally made life difficult for each other. We looked alike, but in temperament, well, I’d say we were like chalk and cheese. They say that the best gift you can give your Mother is your time, and it may well be true. Could I have given her more? Of course. But then who should I have given less? My children, my husband? There are no easy answers.
All I know is that this year, Mother’s Day won’t be the same. And the gift I’d most like to have, is something no one can give me.