Hello and welcome back! Since its December, there’s a lot of excitement around my school for winter break. (No school for two weeks, yay!) And, of course, there are the winter holidays. (Double yay!)
Sure, the holidays are a time to be thankful for the things you have. But more importantly, it’s a good time to reflect on the special people you have in your life.
Dare to be “grate”ful
Today’s blog is one that I’ll focus on my mom. She tries really hard to do special things for our family—especially my big sister and me. But a lot of times, my mom’s efforts don’t always get noticed or appreciated. I know I’ve written about gratitude in my blogs before, but this is a story that’s worth sharing. (I promise there’s a good twist at the end!)
Sometimes, you don’t always feel grateful in the moment when someone does something nice for you. But if you know the person genuinely meant well, there’s often still a benefit to recognizing the thought behind the action.
That’s the lesson Jill and I learned during the holidays last year when we got our “really good” gifts.
Your “presents” is requested
For birthdays and holidays, my mom is always in charge of picking out our presents. (My dad is a generous person, but he doesn’t always know what to get us. That’s why we let my dad focus just on my mom.)
When it comes to the holidays, my mom usually gets us a few very small things, plus one or two “really good” gifts. I think my mother figured out that my sister and I mostly just like unwrapping presents. That’s why my mom focuses on making the “really good” gifts something memorable.
Last year, for my “OK” gifts, I got new pencils, a pair of socks, and chocolate covered pretzels. For my “really good” gift, I got a microscope. It was a “pretty good” gift, I’d say. To be honest, it was my second choice for a present. (I wanted a huge Lego set that I knew we didn’t have room for). I thanked my parents for the gift, but I would’ve been more excited if I’d gotten the Legos.
My sister’s “OK” gifts were similar to mine. Instead of pencils, she got a sewing kit with sewing supplies. When she got the sewing kit, she wasn’t all that thrilled. That’s why Jill had high hopes for her “really good” gift.
But then, Jill got her “really good” gift. It was a sewing machine. Jill was so upset. She nearly cried.
“Why did you get me this? I wanted the nail polish set,” Jill said angrily. “I barely even know how to sew.”
“Because you seemed to enjoy making things. And you’re so talented,” my mom said, getting upset. “Plus, you have a lot of nail polish already. I thought I’d surprise you with something different.”
“Well, you were wrong,” Jill said, in a huff.
My mom, who usually keeps her calm when Jill gets emotional, surprised us with her reaction.
No thanks to you
“You know, it’s a shame you don’t seem to appreciate all the thought and care I put into your presents,” my mom said to Jill and me, her voice getting shaky.
None of us knew what to say. Turns out, we didn’t have to say anything. My mom left the room, almost in tears. My mom usually just cries when she’s happy or during sad movies. This was a surprise. A bad surprise.
Seeing what had happened, my dad turned to Jill and me said: “Sometimes gifts aren’t about what the object or the price tag is. It’s about the thought.” That’s why your mother is so sad. She does so much for us. Maybe you both can find a way to show your gratitude for her. I should do more to say thank you to Mom, too.”
Well, of course, we appreciate our mom! But I guess we might not have said it to her enough. Or done things to show we cared.
Especially Jill, who basically told my mom that the “really good” gift of a sewing machine was “not so good” gift! (My dad didn’t appreciate my pointing this detail out. He told me, “Both you and your sister have work to do in the gratefulness department.” I didn’t have a good response to that.)
“Gift-ing” it your all
After that, I knew what I had to do. Since I didn’t have much money to buy my mom a present, I would make her something. (She’d probably like that more anyway.) I decided to write my mom a special story about how great she was. I got to work on it right away. It was pretty easy to write, as you might imagine.
Jill, on the other hand, was still annoyed at her “really good” gift. The sewing kit and sewing machine were quietly put in her room. Later one night, though, I heard a strange “thump thump thump” sound coming from Jill’s room. I put my head against the door. What was that noise? It took me a moment to realize Jill was using her sewing machine!
A few days later, I presented my mom with the story I wrote about her. She loved the pictures, too. I was glad because the pictures took me a long time to draw.
“Thank you, Noodle,” she said, giving me a big hug and kiss. “This really means a lot. It’s a wonderful gift.”
“Mom, I made you something too,” Jill said shyly. From behind her back, Jill pulled out a bookmark she’d sewn from scrap fabrics. “I used my sewing machine. Turns out, I kind of like it.”
My mom burst into tears. This time, they were happy ones.
“I love it. I absolutely love it,” she said to Jill, clutching the bookmark to her chest. I noticed that Jill had stitched “#1 Mom” on the bookmark. It was kind of crooked, but it looked like my mom didn’t care. “This isn’t a ‘really good’ gift, but a ‘really great’ gift” my mom said, giving Jill her own huge hug and kiss.
“I’m glad,” was all Jill said. Jill looked happy, too. Well, as happy as a teenager can look, I suppose.
A parting gift
Even though Jill didn’t like her sewing machine right off the bat, it soon became one of her favorite gifts. As Jill’s sewing machine has proven, sometimes a negative experience can have a positive outcome. She’s made so many cool things for her friends—and us.
For the holidays this year, Jill already told us what we’d be doing (she needed my mom’s help for supplies). She’s making me “mitten monsters”— Jill explained that she was going to sew monster faces on a pair of her old, mismatched mittens that were too small. My mom would be getting placemats with books on both sides, and my dad would get a pair of shorts with teeth on it (perfect for a teacher and an orthodontist). Jill even said that someday, she might want to try knitting.
I’ve already started drawing portraits of everyone in my family with funny captions about each person. We didn’t give the gifts out yet, but I’m pretty sure we’ll all be happy.
There’s a famous saying that goes “you reap what you sow.” That means what happens to you in the future is shaped by what you do in the present.
Although Jill and I aren’t perfect, we’ve definitely made a bigger effort to show our appreciation more since last year—especially to our mom. It actually feels good to say “thank you” without being asked.
Even though Jill and I hope we get a “really good” gift that we love this year, we’ve promised each other to be happy with whatever we get. In Jill’s case, perhaps her showing more gratitude is a way to reap what she “sewed.” (Get it? Ha ha!)
OK, it’s time for me to work on the caption for my sister’s portrait—check out what I’ve got so far in the picture above. I told her that I wouldn’t make her look weird. (Not sure how I will if I want to make it accurate- just kidding!) Hope you have a happy holiday season— I’ll be back soon.
Until then, be your best you.
What are some good ways you’ve shown appreciation for the people (or pets!) you care about? Please tell me about it in the comments section!