The gift that keeps on giving

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev

With Christmas just around the corner, it is easy to overspend and worry about finding the perfect gift for that special someone. I would like to share the gift that has meant the most to me I received from my grandmother with hopes it may help while are out looking for that perfect gift.

When I think about my paternal grandma my heart fills with happiness and love. Sometimes a tear rolls down my cheek because I wish I could hear her voice on the phone saying “happy birthday” or “I love you” just one more time. My grandma was one of my favourite people. She lived in a small Manitoba town and growing up, I would travel from Calgary to spend my summers with her and my extended family.

A few of my favourite memories include her making my favourite meals, watching me from the sidelines while I was in swimming lessons at the community pool, standing barefoot in her garden eating fresh peas and raspberries, teaching me how to play cards (letting me cheat now and then), and getting to have a coke with dinner. I was 5 years old the first summer I stayed with her and continued to go out each summer until I was 11.

For about a year, my grandma and I hit a rough patch in our relationship. I was going through a rebellious time and became a young teen mom and felt disappointment and shame. I remember going to Manitoba with my mom, sister and 7-month-old son for spring break. My mom watched my son at my aunt’s while I went across the street to see if I could repair the relationship with my grandma. I remember walking through the back door of her house and after a year of not speaking, all she could say was “where is the little one?”

I laughed and walked back out the door to go pick up my son. When I walked back into her house and looked into her eyes, I could feel the disappointment shift to love and acceptance and I knew we would all be okay.

In my eyes, my grandma was one of my number one cheerleaders. I was fortunate she offered some financial support which has helped me to be where I am today. I am honoured and grateful for that, but financial support was not my favourite gift.

My favourite gift was her love and her time. I travelled to Manitoba to see my grandma and extended family as often as I could with my son and after my second son was born, I continued to travel back as often as I could so both my children could experience her love, and time, and create lasting memories.

As the Christmas holidays draw nearer and you find yourself searching for that perfect gift or gifts, I invite you to reflect on what memories you want to leave with your loved ones. If you ask my children what gifts they remember getting, they may only be able to remember a few that have stood out over the years.

But, if you ask them what they remember about the time spent with grandparents and great-grandparents, the memories of meals, card games, conversations and watching the Blue Jays play baseball on tv are the ones they remember and talk about.

We cannot predict how much time we have with loved ones or when will be the last time we see or speak to someone.

For me, it is not about the amount of money we spend or how many gifts we give, but the time we spend with our loved ones creating memories that will be passed down and remembered for years to come. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with happiness and cheer.