It Really Is the Thought That Counts—My Grandma’s Gifts Proved It

grandma hugging her son in front of a Christmas tree

Sometimes something isn’t special while it’s happening. It isn’t a memory or has no significance until much later in your life. My grandma’s gifts are a prime example of that.

As the holidays approach and things in our families change over the years, I have been reflecting a lot on holidays past and what I want to share with my children and what I hope they will share with theirs.

In recent years, our family has changed the way it looks. My brother and I have lost our parents, while my husband and I have had our twins. Boy, have they made the holidays magical, and nothing says magic like children at Christmas.

Another change in our family was that our grandma had passed away. She was the last living grandparent we had, and she lived to be 92 years old. During the moments with her, we knew how special it was because not everybody has grandparents and not everyone gets to live to be that age. But we never knew just how special something was until she was gone.

Grandma’s Gifts Are Priceless

how my grandmothers left a legacy of true strengthThat something was her grandma gifts. Let me explain. Our grandma didn’t have a lot of money, she lived in a small apartment in Hayward, California, before relocating to Livermore where she was closer to my mother in her later years. At the senior apartments that she lived in, they had a recreation room with a donation table, and my grandma would donate to it and also find her treasures from it. Year after year, she would show up with her brown grocery bags with our names written in Sharpie. What gifts were in the bags were a mystery.

Many of us even laughed and joked during these years because you just never knew what your treasure would be. Looking back now, I can see her walking around, having something catch her eye and knowing immediately who in her family she would give it to.

I love that even though she didn’t have a lot of money, she always came with something. It is the thought that counts, and those grandma gifts would be the poster for that timeless reminder. One of the last grandma gifts I had gotten from my grandma was a picnic basket. It had everything inside to go have a picnic with my husband. She even added straws and some ketchup. It was so well thought out. I will cherish that thoughtfulness always.

Small, Special Moments Make for Lifelong Memories

Some things may not seem special in the moment, but those are the moments. The first year after she passed, our family decided to keep with the tradition and pass out our own “grandma gifts,” with one important rule: We couldn’t buy the gift; it had to be something we found or had ourselves. We’d had a contest to see who could come up with the best grandma gifts. I love that we still do this, and I will bring the twins into this tradition when they get a bit older. I hope they carry on with her story. In those moments she is with us, they all are.

Grandma gifts bring significance when they are given and when they are received, but all gifts can be that way. And the moments we do not think are important right now may in fact be the ones your family remembers later. I wonder if she knows we have kept it going. I hope she knows now that I am older, I see how special she was and how much those gifts meant to her to bring on Christmas morning. So this season, let’s all remember it is the thought that counts.

(Photo by Nicole Michalou)

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