Sitting outside trying to script a long-overdue letter to my 93-year-old grandmother, my four-year-old approaches me with a piece of glass! Not just any glass; sea glass. He holds it up high in a giving manner, exclaiming its beauty. In preschooler speak, he chooses the word “pretty.” He places it in my hand, a gesture of selflessness, saying I should have it because it is pretty. “You should have pretty things, “he said.
Sea glass, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a piece of glass refined by the salt of the ocean over a period of time. Like sandpaper, the salt slowly buffs out the rough edges, making them smooth to the touch and frosty in appearance. Many are drawn to this diamond among the crushed coral and broken bits of sea shells; I am among them. My son knows this.
The piece he brought me was one I found at the beach, discarded on the ground at home to dry some many days prior. It appears to have been the bottom of a clear bottle; perhaps a soda bottle, maybe beer. Of course my son didn’t think of its past role; rather he thought of what it meant to him now- something Mommy would like. How fun it is to see an object or place, hear a sound or absorb a rich smell and ” see/feel ” a friend or loved one . This gift from my son, though fleeting in his mind, means more to me than a gift from a store (love’s receipt).
Over the past seven years, I have received numerous gifts of leaves, rocks, sticks, and flowers for my hair. I have found crushed leaf debris in my jacket pocket or strewn in the washing machine. This brings a smile to my face; the gift keeps on giving. I no longer have any of these treasures; though I am amazed at the times my son would ask if I still have (rock, shell, etc) days after it was discarded.
It brings our kids the purest of joys to give us these simple and beautiful treasures, even when the joy is found elsewhere five minutes later. As a parent it is my job to encourage that selfless giving by openly receiving their treasure into my pocket with gratitude. I can only hope that their small deeds translate outside the home into ways that can truly bless others.
As Christmas and Thanksgiving draw near, keep this innocent simplicity in mind. Instead of buying your friend a scented candle, take her out to lunch. Instead of buying grandma a scarf, write a letter and enclose a few pictures. Instead of getting mom and dad a new gadget, encourage your kids to make a picture with crayons or paint. Memories are intangible gifts; they can create and sustain relationships with others.
Someday, I might misplace that piece of glass, but I will never forget receiving it.
By Guest Blogger: Becky Pepper