Thursday, December 25, 2008

Twelve Gifts: #10 REMEMBRANCE

The Christmas after my mission I received an abundant stash of gifts from friends and family, but I can only remember one: It was a beautiful surprise from my mother. She had compiled a scrapbook of all the letters and photos from my mission. I had absolutely no idea she’d been working on it, could not even imagine the number of late-night hours she’d put into it without my knowing. But I was now leafing through a complete set of memories of my missionary experience, made tangible in this handmade folio. There was nothing “cute” about it -- no trendy cropping or die cuts or even colored backgrounds. My mom wasn’t that kind of mom, and this wasn’t that kind of scrapbook. But it was rich with memories, and with a kind of reverence. This was an unbelievable treasure. I was overwhelmed. This was the first time I realized what an amazing gift Remembrance could be.

. . . . . . .

Fast-forward to Christmas 1992. I lost both my mother and my magic “Mrs. Santa Claus” grandmother that year. We’d been through the Rodney King riots, and a series of earthquakes and fires and mudslides in Los Angeles. Life felt like it pulled the rug right out from under me.

We went to Utah for Christmas so 1-year-old Josh could see his grandparents, and we could be nurtured by the security of Home. As we gathered around the tree at my in-laws’ house to open presents, no one could miss the stunningly-wrapped package tucked off to one side. It was enormous, and wrapped in the most gorgeous mauve foil adorned with a magnificent, multi-colored bow. There was even a little silver key tied on as an ornament. Jim, my father-in-law, always gives Bonnie the most stellar gifts (one year it was an ankle-length leather coat) and we couldn’t wait to see what was inside this box. Surely he’d outdone himself this year.

As the ribbons and paper flew and the squeals of delight rose up, there was no question people’s gift lists had been matched and spirits were high. Nearly every package had been opened, but the mystery box still remained. Jim went over to read the tag. “Charrette” he said. I’m sure everyone was shocked, but no one could have been struck with as much disbelief as I was. I felt like the girl in Grandma Winters’ Christmas story, when the “little rich girl” reaches for the big, beautiful package and the kind, older gentleman gently says, “Oh, no. That’s not for you, it’s for Cozette. Go ahead, Cozette. It’s yours. Go ahead and open it.”

So I carefully undid the beautiful ribbon and set the little silver key aside. I tried not to rip the shiny pink paper as I lifted the tape. And then I could not believe my eyes. (I’m trying hard not to bawl my eyes out just writing about this now.) It was a spray of flowers from my mother’s casket. Somehow Bonnie had managed to secure a representative sampling of blooms and taken them to a florist friend of hers who arranged them very artistically. They were framed in a beautiful glass box, along with the program from the funeral -- including the portrait I had drawn for the cover.

Remembrance. A most wonderful gift. At a time when I wanted to remember every little thing about my mother. Every little scrap of paper with her handwriting took on enormous significance now that she was gone. I wanted to surround myself with anything that reminded me of her. And here was something spectacular and meaningful to hang on my wall.

I still have the little silver key from that amazing package I opened 16 years ago. It reminds me that people I love found the key to my heart that year by going to extraordinary lengths to give me the gift of Remembrance. And I have never forgotten.


. . . . . . . .

I learned another great lesson about Remembrance that year. I learned that when we lose someone we love, any opportunity that allows us to remember them is an extraordinary gift. This gave me a whole new appreciation for the Sacrament...a weekly ordinance designed to help us remember Someone we love very deeply. (“That we may always remember Him, that we may have His spirit to be with us...”) That year I realized that that remembrance, too (not unlike Christmas) is a gift from a loving Father. And I cherished it like never before.

9 comments:

Cari said...

You are blessed with tremendous insight. I am ever grateful that you share it so freely.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Your life has been one bitter/sweet song! I can hear the music in your words. (I am very curious, now, about the name Charrette! Is that what you are called or are you called Jana?) Thanks for this beautiful Christmas gift this morning!

Mrs4444 said...

That you are so loved and treasured by people so wonderful is not a surprise, but I sure am happy you are. We lost our 4444family matriarch and patriarch in the same six-week period (from Dec. 22 to Feb 3), and it rocked us to the core, so I can relate. Also, your remembrance post reminds me of one of the favorite gifts I have ever given. Not sure you ever read my post, so here it is... http://www.halfpastkissintime.com/search?q=postcards

MERRY CHRISTMAS, Friend.

Heather of the EO said...

What an amazing gift! I too love "remembrance." I'm no hoarder, but I treasure a few items of my grandparent's like they are gold. Or diamonds...:)

Another beautiful post!

Brillig said...

AGAIN WITH THE TEARS! Would you knock it off? (And at the same time, never stop?) These are so amazing. And I love your insights on the Sacrament. I'll think of it that way this week. Beautiful.

Kazzy said...

I am so moved by the way BDP thought to do this for you. What a great second mom you have there. I am sure one way your mom might have found peace as she was leaving you was to know that she was leaving you with such a great additional family.

Thanks for sharing. This was beautifully done, once again, my friend.

Tammy Lorna said...

It's been a little while since I've stuck my head in and read your blog, but I've been spending a wonderful 20 minutes reading your Christmas gifts and I can't wait for the last 2! Thanks for sharing them, they're just beautiful.

Merry Christmas to you, Jeff and the kids all the way from down under :)

xo Tammy

Dedee said...

Having never lost anyone close to me, I can only imagine what it must be like to suddenly want everything for remembrance. Not only are reading these making me ponder my gifts, they are making me wonder what I can do to share those gifts with other people, starting with my husband and my children.

deb said...

Okay... I love you.
I was pondering over my post this morning, I share with the Tuesday's unwrapped posts, and was in doubt over whether to put the drawing that my daughter emailed to me over the weekend. This was truly the Spirit nudging me..
I am crying, sorry if this is jumbled.