OK, here’s a familiar question you might not have thought about lately–what was your best gift ever? No, not the gift of a massage on your birthday that felt good for at least the next two days. Nor the box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day last month that disappeared faster than ice cream cones on a sweltering August day. Your best gift EVER?
Yes, I hear some of you–perhaps the birth of a child or the support of a friend during a difficult time. And I, too, really appreciate the gift of those first days of spring when you can go outside in shirt sleeves–no coat! All good gifts, I grant you.
But my best gift ever? A roll end of newsprint my mother gave me back in the early ’70’s. Newspaper rolls, if you had a newspaper office nearby, were readily available free because the printing plants never used all the paper on a roll. They took them off the presses before they were completely empty, and they still had an amazing amount of blank paper on them. Publishers were anxious to give them away in order not to have to pay to get rid of them. I think this is still true, although some now charge for them.
This roll was a whopper–about as long as my leg, a little heavy, but it served me well for almost 50 years. I used it over and over with my children. We traced around their small bodies and made cut-out shapes that they colored. We made towns and roads and racetracks for their Matchbox cars. We made zoo enclosures for little plastic animals. More than once, in desperation, I unrolled a length on the dining room table with some crayons and said, “Go to it!”
And then I did it all over again my my grandkids. I also used it to wrap almost all my gifts over the years, especially for children, and then used markers to decorate the package. I even used it at Christmas as wrap, again with some hand-decorating.
But it had another splendid use. We got a “new” antique door for our bathroom that was almost all glass. Scary, huh? Be assured, we eventually covered it with a curtain, but before we got around to installing that, we covered it with a double thickness (think Charmin) of the newsprint paper. Friends who came that year for a New Year’s Eve party (including children) used markers to decorate it with messages and drawings–usually appropriate. That evolved into a tradition for a number of years, even after the curtain was installed. The paper went back up for that one night.
Every time I took that roll out of the closet, I thought to myself, “This was my best gift ever, Mom!” She died in December at the age of 101, and the 50-year-old roll ran out two months later. I wish I could tell her–she’d love knowing that.
And what would she say about this best gift ever? I think she’d say something like this: Wrapped up in all that paper over all those years is the best gift of all–the love of family (in whatever form that takes) and dear friends.
In conclusion, an offering from a friend on the 1984 door . We’ll protect her identity here.
Who could ask for more?!
A water closet supreme–
A throne sitter’s dream
May your ’84 time here
Bring relief & good cheer.