Monday, December 10, 2007

The gift of gratitude

Today I am expressing my gratitude for my father in law's successful surgery and pray for his quick recovery. Although I have married into the family, my in-laws are very caring and giving people. I am happy to share their son with them and look forward to creating many more family moments with them.
This Christmas will be a special one: my father in law is gaining strength and my mother in law is gaining peace of mind. Our daughter will be arriving from New York to spend a few days with us and my son is around.
I lost my father before age 6 and my mom passed away in June of 1999. Christmas was always special at our house. Imagine 7 kids, a big tree and a crackling fire-Norman Rockwell would have been pleased!
I am thankful that loss can be overcome and that happy memories survive those that are not as comforting.

1 comment:

Mrs. Claus said...

My Dad died in March of 1980. That first Mother's Day, not wanting Mom to be alone, we went from our home in Portland to visit her in Corsicana. I had opted to wait until we got there to "see what she needed" before buying her a gift.

Pulling off the highway into her drive, I noticed her two old metal garbage cans at the curb and realized my Mom, of 73, had to lug those things up to the highway. Instantly I knew what my gift would be! I was fortunate enough to find a wheeled garbage can cart at the local hardware store.

The morning of the next May 12th, as I wrote the date on a check at my beauty shop, I had a sinking feeling. It was Mom's birthday and I had forgotten! All the way back to work I was in a quandary as to what to do. Then I remembered Mother had mentioned that a new Holiday Inn had opened in Corsicana and that their buffet had become quite the social hub for dinner.

I placed a call to their manager and pled my case. He was kind and understanding and agreed to my plan of having Mom and her friend, Doris, come out for dinner. He was to bill my credit card for their dinner choices and mail the receipt. Our daughter, Judy, wired a corsage to the hotel. These wonderful folks did more than I ever imagined. Not only did the manager greet the birthday girl and her friend, he personally pinned her flowers on, had a dessert with a candle, and had the staff sing "Happy Birthday". But, the thing that thrilled Mom the most was out front. On the hotel marquee, he had spelled out "Happy Birthday Lorene, Love Jan". Several locals who knew my mother stopped by her table to wish her a happy birthday.

Doris took a picture of Mom standing under her giant birthday card and I still treasure it. When I received my receipt, the charge was for 'two buffet meals...$11.28'. The waitress had refused the tip I had requested to be added and had asked that that be her gift to Mom. Mom called that evening a 'brilliant idea'. I'm glad she never knew it was actually dumb luck.

Until Mom died in November of 1983, she called those two gifts the best of three gifts she had ever received. I never knew what the third one was.

This past week, I received two such gifts. A package was delivered containing a beautiful red blanket. All hand hemmed with an embroidered, decorated Christmas tree with "Mrs. Claus" printed underneath in gold thread. The package was from a young lady who has become like another daughter. She had gotten this wonderful machine that performs all sorts of magical sewing tricks and this was one of her first endeavors. How honored I feel to have her consider me for such a gift. The note that accompanied it was even more special than the blanket. The throw was intended to be used as a lap blanket for the sleigh. No way will I use it in such a manner! I don't want the little, sometimes muddy, feet of my little ones soiling this treasure! It has been placed over the front of the sleigh facing me so that all can see. Thank you Dear Sheryl. How important you are to me.

Saturday morning, as I glanced out toward the parking lot, I saw a tiny blonde doll tugging a big poster. She was accompanied by her mother, carrying a baby boy, and her father. The little girl marched straight through the North Pole and back to the sleigh where she proudly handed me the poster. The tears came quickly. First me...then the mother. The green poster board chronicled the child's years of sitting in the sleigh with Mrs. Claus from 2002 through 2006. Five beautiful pictures of the baby girl through her toddler years. To this, were the words "Martin Tree Farm" with a big "Thank You" for being a part of their Christmas family tradition.

You know, I have talked with hundreds of children over the past seven years. Some names I remember but, most I do not. The faces change as the children grow. But dear, sweet, quiet, Rose Mary Stein, your name I will always remember. And like my Mom, these are two of my favorite three gifts ever.

Jan Elliott