I've received a few very special gifts over the years. Some have more meaning than others, some I've even forgotten. But what comes to mind when I think about a 'memorable' gift is what my brother and I used to receive from our mother (and still do, although not in the same way).
My parents separated and then divorced while my brother and I were in college. Suddenly we really had no 'home' to come to over Christmas and during other vacations. We would spend Christmas Day going between our dad and stepmother's house and my uncle's house, where my mom's family gathered every year. But we no longer woke up in a house of our own on Christmas morning since my mom's tiny house did not have the room to hold us.
Faced with having to shop for teenaged children turning into young adults, my mom grew increasingly at a loss to know or be able to guess what we wanted. This was before the era of the gift card phenomenon, so she settled for just giving us a hand-picked, heartfelt card and cash.
That's not the memorable part, however.
Every year, my brother and I would go out shopping with our mom, usually on Christmas Eve. We would hit a mall, discount outlet stores, department stores, wherever our fancy took us. And my brother and I would buy our Christmas gifts using the money our mother had given us.
What I remember most about those years, isn't the gifts that I bought. What comes to mind is the experience of shopping, spending the day with my mom and brother. After college, neither one of us came back to the Detroit area - I moved several times, ending up in West Michigan, and my brother lived in San Francisco for many years before moving back to Michigan last year. Those shopping days were for many years, the most amount of time that the three of us spent together - the best quality time we had together as a family.
My mom always fretted over the fact that we had no gifts to open on Christmas morning - no fancy wrapping or shiny bows awaiting us under a sparkly tree. But what we did have were memories, and those are something that we'll have for the rest of our lives.
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