The gifts that stay with us for a life­time

The Sun News - - Uplift - BY HEIDI STEVENS Chicago Tri­bune – Sarah Ze­ma­tis

So much about gift­giv­ing is rushed: the shop­ping, the wrapping, the open­ing.

What sticks? What sort of gift has the power to not just de­light in the mo­ment, but linger for the long term? Move with us through life? Change us a lit­tle bit, when we open it and forever­more?

I asked friends and col­leagues and read­ers to tell me their most cher­ished gift ever. It could be a ma­te­rial item, or not. Given at a hol­i­day, or not. The answers are lovely and, of­ten, un­ex­pected. Maybe they’ll in­spire an idea or two for you this sea­son. “My 28-year-old daugh­ter gave me a signed copy of Michelle Obama’s book,”Be­com­ing.” She stood in line for four hours to get it. She said it was the per­fect in­ter­face be­tween the two women she ad­mired most. I still tear up when I think of her say­ing that to me. The gift was the book, but the real gift was my daugh­ter’s words.”

– Vickie Page McHenry “The day I apol­o­gized to my son for the mis­takes I made as a fa­ther and him telling me that we all make mis­takes and I was a good dad and he loved me. He is gone now, so this is some­thing I think about and hang onto ev­ery day.”

– Bill Ig­yarto “My mom made me a fleece blan­ket for Christ­mas in my 20s. ‘Made’ is a gen­er­ous word. It’s a piece of cloth straight from JoAnn Fab­ric with un­fin­ished edges. I was a bit heart­bro­ken when I first opened it, but 20+ years later, it’s on my bed ev­ery win­ter and I refuse to let her fin­ish it. It re­minds me not to let per­fec­tion get in the way of the good.” – Jes­sica Gard­ner “The Easter Bunny gave me a but­ter­fly net when I was 7. That changed my whole life!”

– Doug Taron (chief cu­ra­tor at the Peggy Note­baert Na­ture Mu­seum) “I searched 35 years for my birth fam­ily. My birth mother passed be­fore I found her. Her step­son gave me her ashes.”

– Tina Miles “My dad never had much stuff, but he gave me his 30th an­niver­sary coin from AA. I carry it with me all the time, and though prac­ti­cally worth­less, it’s among my few prized pos­ses­sions.”

– John Duffy “My grand­mother’s Christ­mas tree top­per. It’s su­per old and spins and puts stars all over the ceil­ing and walls. She had it on her tree ev­ery year and it was mes­mer­iz­ing. I’m 46 and still mes­mer­ized.”

– Kristi Hu­bert “When I got elected to the na­tional board of direc­tors of my fra­ter­nity, one of my friends gave me a spe­cial fra­ter­nity badge. It was the badge of the founder of our chap­ter in Mas­sachusetts that, at one time, got re­moved be­cause they ini­ti­ated a black man. With me be­ing elected, he thought we had come full cir­cle and wanted me to have it.”

– Marc Du­mas “A sil­ver Hamsa bracelet my hus­band had made for me. I gave my niece a Hamsa neck­lace for Christ­mas be­fore she moved to L.A. It turned out to be the last gift I’d give her. Hamsa is a sym­bol of pro­tec­tion, and I’ve al­ways hoped she was wear­ing it when she died. I never take the bracelet off, keeps me feel­ing close to her.”

– Karen Kel­lams “My dad gave me a world at­las when I was 7. It was a real bound book, like grown-ups had and my very first one like that. On the in­side cover, my dad printed my full name in his per­fect pen­man­ship and had me un­der­line it in red pen­cil. I trea­sure this at­las now be­cause it was a gift from my dad for no rea­son, just be­cause he wanted me to learn how big the world was. This at­las is also a trea­sure be­cause it doc­u­ments the whole world as it was in my child­hood. Turn­ing pages, I see maps with coun­tries that now have dif­fer­ent names or dif­fer­ent borders. There are coun­tries or cities miss­ing be­cause they did not ex­ist. The world changed much since that time, but not that mem­ory of my dad teach­ing me about it.”

– Cathy Hig­gins Gross “Just re­cently from my hus­band: A pic­ture frame with pic­tures of the street signs/cor­ners of the three places we have lived to­gether.”

– Jen­nifer Riederer Mar­ler “When I was 9 or 10, my older brother bought me a pair of bright green pa­tent leather shoes with a match­ing purse for Easter.”

– Dahleen Glan­ton “My daugh­ter-in-law invit­ing me into the birthing room when my first grand­child was born. I’ll never for­get the look on my son’s face when he saw his son en­ter­ing the world, or how ex­cited he was to share that mo­ment with me.”

– Michelle Har­ris “When I was a kid, I kept check­ing out from the li­brary the same book of vin­tage magic posters over and over again. (“100 Years of Magic Posters.”) I loved it enough that I thought about it decades later but it was so rare you usu­ally couldn’t find it on used book sites at any price. My wife kept an eye out for it for years, un­til she found it, bought it and gave it to me for Christ­mas.”

– Jenni Spin­ner “Seven years ago, I de­cided to move from Chicago to North­ern Cal­i­for­nia to be with my nowhus­band. I had worked for DePaul Uni­ver­sity for 10 years and my co­work­ers were a sec­ond fam­ily to me. Leav­ing DePaul, the job I loved and co­work­ers I adored was gut-wrench­ing. My co­work­ers took me to din­ner on my last night. At the din­ner ta­ble, they sur­prised me with a charm bracelet. Each of them pur­chased a charm that rep­re­sented our re­la­tion­ship, a part of my per­son­al­ity, an in­side joke or a part of my life in Chicago. I was ab­so­lutely stunned. They went around the ta­ble one-by­one and held up their charm, de­scribed why they bought it, what it meant to them about me, and put it on my new bracelet. That charm bracelet is like my lucky tal­is­man now. When I need to be re­minded that I’m a hard­work­ing, amaz­ing pro­fes­sional, I put that charm bracelet on and it’s like all the love and good wishes and pos­i­tive work­ing vibes get chan­neled to get me through the harder times.”

– Sarah Lag­gos “My hus­band gave me a small note­book for my birth­day one year. I thought, ‘Great, an­other jour­nal.’ But when I opened it, I was stunned. He had spent the en­tire month writ­ing down each day things he no­ticed and ap­pre­ci­ated about me. My el­dest son brought me a bag of Lindt truf­fles, which he knows I love. He had care­fully un­wrapped each of them and writ­ten a small mes­sage of love, grat­i­tude or ap­pre­ci­a­tion and then re­wrapped them so I could be lifted each time I read one. Th­ese gifts touched my heart so deeply and re­ally made me know that I am seen and loved.”


What sort of gift has the power to not just de­light in the mo­ment, but linger for the long term?

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