Every so often when I walk into my closet I will notice there are many items taking up space that are not used on a routine basis. I have a beautiful pair of rubber boots that earn their keep every time it rains and I need to make a trek to the back yard shed. I have a puffy winter coat that only comes out to take a spin every three or four years due to our Southern weather patterns. There is a section of clothing items that I affectionately call my “wish list”.
I wish to get back them in them one day.
Then, there are the unexplainable things found in my closet. Such as, the most precious, faded navy blue and dust covered knit dress in a child’s size 6. It is so old that the embroidered flowers are barely hanging on by a thread. This relic of clothing means the world to me and no one even wears it on a routine basis. When I see it hanging in the rear of the closet it makes me glow from the inside thinking about the gift giver.
Hanging near this dress is an adult size cardigan that is almost eighteen years old. This cardigan is teal green with a ruffled closure and ruffle sleeves. When it was first given to me it would hang off of me because it was two sizes too big. I couldn’t bear to return or exchange it. I knew it would hurt the gift giver’s feelings. So it hangs ever so delicately in my closet. About twice a winter, I will remove it from its hanger, and cozy up with a piping hot cup of coffee while I think about the gift giver.
Folded neatly in a tiny corner is a child size black and gold t-shirt ordered from an online boutique. It’s intentional colors are celebrating the New Orleans Saint’s Super Bowl win in 2010. The gift giver knew that my daughters needed to pay homage to this once in a lifetime occasion. The shirt was worn so many times that the neckline is stretched out and the black has faded into a new shade. It is just one of those things I cannot part with and when I see it, I am reminded of the perfect gift giver’s thoughtfulness.
These are some of the gifts that still have a place in my closet but a much larger place in my heart. A few days ago my youngest daughter finally shared with me that she doesn’t remember much about Granny Gail other than her smelling really good, being in a wheelchair and always covered up with a snowflake blanket. Lucky for both of us, that tattered blanket is also folded up and tucked away in the same closet that holds the treasures of years gone by. The smell she was referring to was her signature drug store perfume….White Shoulders.
The last bottle she ever purchased sits in my closet.
My beautiful mother was famous for giving thoughtful gifts. The gifts she gave were meant to be used time and time again. Whether it was the newest kitchen gadget sold on the TV shopping channels or your favorite chocolates for a holiday, there was always meaning attached to it. Sometimes the girls gifts were in a larger size than needed. She wanted to be sure the kids could ear the clothes she bought at least for two years. Sometimes the adult clothes she bought were in a larger size too… not sure what she was trying to say with this. Or maybe her Southern Bell nature would not allow her to ask what size her adult daughter wore.
Even though she was the perfect “material” gift giver, the “spiritual gifts” she left behind will bless my daughters and I for generations to come. She was a practical, hard working mother who taught her own daughters how to cook and how to care for a family. She wasn’t a collector of fine china or silver. She was a collector of vintage things that reminded her of her childhood.
She was always volunteering us for babysitting, house cleaning and odd jobs so we could earn our own money. She taught her children how live a life full of contentment and joy. Her wit and wisdom would leave you tickled but never offended. She rarely made time for anything outside of family or church. If you mentioned visiting family in Zwolle, she smiled with her whole face. She lived such an intentional life that included teaching others about the love of her Savior. She was a worthy Scrabble opponent. Woe be unto the person who sat at the kitchen table to face her, the Scrabble board and her quick math skills. A dictionary was not needed at her table. She knew all of the words and she made the rules.
This week made twelve years since the sweetest giver of gifts passed away. Of all of the sweet things she left behind that are tucked away in my closet…the legacy of salvation, redemption and love is what will be felt for generations to come.
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” – Proverbs 31:31