Mother’s Day will soon be here, with Father’s Day not far behind.
Finding the right gift for your mom or dad takes time, energy, and money, three commodities in short supply during the busy years of raising young children.
I have an idea that will save you from a last-minute purchase on Amazon or a frantic race through Target before meeting your parents for brunch.
This gift will take, at most, half an hour of your time, can be acquired even at the last minute, and costs nothing.
Best of all, it is sure to be a major hit. I promise.
The idea? Write a paragraph recounting a special memory from your childhood.
Before you roll your eyes, please hear me out.
A number of years ago, when my kids asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day, this is what I requested—that they share with me one special memory from childhood.
By Mother’s Day, I had an email from all four kids, each one sharing in vivid detail a childhood memory, something that had been particularly meaningful.
It’s been said that each child is born into a different family, meaning that each child experiences his or her family in their own way. I was reminded of that bit of wisdom as I read their memories. Wonder and surprise washed over me as I read about events that rose to the level of “special memory.” Some I only dimly recalled.
Not only did their reflections give me a fond look into the rearview mirror, but their writings offered fresh insight into the children they had been and the adults they had become.
Along with savoring the memories, I delighted in reading their carefully chosen words. Text messages are the “t-shirt and cutoffs” of communication. A thoughtfully written reflection approaches the “tuxedo and ballgown” level.
Not exactly everyday stuff, and therefore, mighty special.
I printed those emails, tucked them away in a safe place, and asked the kids to do the exact same thing that year for Father’s Day. My husband was just as delighted with what he received.
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in this low-tech, non-material, non-consumer, totally meaningful gift option.
Below are ideas to help you get started. If you enlist your siblings, you can all answer the same question or every person can choose their own. Your parents are going to love this either way. If you are feeling especially ambitious, print your memory out, glue it into a scrapbook, and promise to add a new one every year.
Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gifts solved forever!
Topics for reflection:
– A favorite holiday, birthday, family vacation, family ritual
– Something funny that happened at dinnertime
– A conversation in the car that mattered
– Your favorite home-cooked meal
– A time that your parent truly surprised you
– A time that your parent made you proud (they already know about the times they embarrassed you)
– A life lesson your parent taught you
Long after the flowers die, the chocolates are eaten, and other hastily chosen gifts have been cleared away in a downsizing purge, your written words will be the treasures that remain.