Before we begin I have to admit that I’m a very, very hard person to buy gifts for. It drives my husband crazy. I really want, for nothing. I’ve got an amazing job, where I see beautiful clothes every day and have access to the most beautiful jewelry. I just don’t want, or need…. anything.
That said, there is one gift that I really, really love. And that’s a story.
A couple of years ago, my mom wrote down the stories from my dad’s life as a gift for all four of us kids.
Together, they’d sat down and remembered it all.
There was the story of him and his pet goat Billy, who he’d take around with his wagon to sell my nonnie’s apples. The goat he said was better than any dog he’d ever had.
There was the story of when he was a teenager, and built a boat in his basement with his brother and his friends, only to realise the boat was too big to get out of the basement and had to be broken down.
There was the story of his clothing store. Which he owned for 47 years, and the community that would come in and how he knew just about everyone.
And then there was the story of his first date with my mom, which he was late for. But she waited anyway. Four hours late because he fell asleep watching hockey. Wow.
In every story, I learned more about who my dad was, and is, and has always been. I saw parts of myself, the traits and perspectives that I inherited from him. His love for clothes, and making things with his hands, his adoration of his family and friends. Things I see in my own life, today.
It was one of the greatest gifts ever.
Because one day, my dad will no longer be with me. And neither will my mom.
I’ll be left, living in another country, with a life far away from the one we all knew together. There’ll be no home to go back to, no number to call, no trip to plan where we can all remember what it was like when we were just the six of us.
Instead, I’ll have these sheets of paper. And when there are nights, as I’m sure there will be, where I’m really missing my parents, I’ll go back to them. I’ll sit on my couch in LA, and I’ll read my stories about dad and his goat Billie, or the boat in the basement, and I’ll laugh a bit, and cry a bit, and for a moment, I’ll feel like I’m back with them. Sitting on their couch, hearing their stories. Learning more about these people who brought me into the world, and gave me everything they could.
So if you’re stumped on what to give someone this Christmas, just write down a story.
They’ll have it forever. And It’ll never, ever, go out of style.
Happy Christmas everyone.
PS - I’m going to make my mom do her stories next.