by Margaret Cabaniss
Mother’s Day is just around the corner (May 12, if you haven’t checked the calendar) — that annual reminder of how much you love your mom and how impossible she is to shop for. I can’t remember a time when my mom didn’t tell us, “Oh, I don’t need anything; I already have everything I want!” Which just makes you feel worse for not being able to find such an awesome mom a suitable gift, what kind of terrible child are you?, etc.
If my mom sounds anything like yours, then I have the perfect idea for a Mother’s Day gift this year. Really: I almost hate to tell it to you, because everything you give her for subsequent Mother’s Days is going to pale in comparison — and it won’t cost you a cent. It just requires a little bit of thought and time (those intangible gifts your mom really wants).
It’s a memory box — literally, just a box filled with notes recounting your favorite memories of your mom. My sisters and I put one together for our mom a few years back: We each typed up 25 brief memories — just a couple of sentences each — of fun times we’d had together, little things she did for us as kids that made a big impression…that sort of thing. We printed out all 100 memories, cut them into separate notes, folded them up, and put them in a decorative box one of my sisters had on hand.
On Mother’s Day, we presented the box to my mom with instructions to open one note a day, so that she’d have memories to last her for a few months. Instead, she immediately sat down in her favorite chair and read them all at once, little notes (and tissues) piling up in her lap as she opened one memory after another, after another.
To this day, Mom says it was the best gift we ever gave her.
It really is true that we see our parents differently as adults — particularly once you have kids of your own (or so I hear). Once you’re the one doing the laundry, cooking the meals, chasing the kids, and generally keeping the family running, you see what an enormous job motherhood really is — and how little thanks there is in it (well, of the audible variety, anyway). When I sat down to write my memories, it was probably the first time in a long time that I had really thought about the thousands of sacrifices, large and small, that my mom made for us every day, without hesitation — and, to my shame, without enough thanks from me. (Though, in my defense, it’s hard to articulate something like “thanks for my secure childhood” as a nine-year-old.)
This project ended up being the perfect opportunity to show her that, while those countless little things may have gone unthanked when we were kids, they didn’t go unnoticed, or unfelt — and now that we have more of an inkling of the daily sacrifice and love that went into them, we couldn’t be more grateful. (Ahem. I suddenly seem to have something in both my eyes…)
So there it is. Give your mom — heck, your grandmother, your aunts, your sisters, your friends — the gift of thanks for the little things they do for you every day. It’s pretty much the best gift you could give them.
Image: Design Sponge