Monday, December 19, 2011


This is our Christmas tree.


Beneath the Christmas tree there is a small gift and card.


The gift and card are for me, from Elizabeth.


She wrote,

"To Mom, I like you I mad you a pasit {present} I like you, Elizabeth."

We've had the discussion before that I love my children ALL the time, but sometimes I don't like their behavior. So when I read this card, I immediately understood her intent and I'm sincerely touched. She loves me. But she also likes me. May it always be so.


Everything about her present is hand-made, except the ribbon - which she found in her hair accessories box and carefully tied to the package.

The package that she cried over, last week, when she saw that her little brother had tried to rip it open. Henry doesn't know how to read yet, so he didn't recognize the card had my name on it. Then again, even if he could read, why should that stop him from opening the present? When you are a small child, presents are meant to be opened - regardless of whether you are the intended recipient. Or not.

Regrettably, Elizabeth was beside herself and had tears streaming down her face as she asked me for tape. It was very important that she repair the box so I wouldn't know what's inside.

It's a surprise, Mom. For Christmas!


She made the box out of cardboard and drew pictures on all four sides. On the top, she created a picture of our dining room table and chairs.


On the sides she has colored festive holiday scenes including a Christmas tree and present...


Stocking and snowman...


Jingle bell and piping hot cup of chocolate...


And a candy cane and mitten.


Spoiler Alert: I know what's in the box.

And not because I peeked, but because my two other first graders gave me a similar present that they immediately unwrapped and showed to me. They had created colorful pinch pots in their art class. Last year, I had volunteered in art the day that they were glazing their kindergarten pinch pots. Last year, none of our three children could wait until Christmas to give me their present. They stepped off the bus and proudly handed me their boxes before running off to play.


This year, two of our children immediately showed me their first grade version of the pinch pot. We compared them side-by-side to the kindergarten version and it is obvious these are the creations of older children. The pots are larger and more refined.

More first grade and less kindergarten.

Although Carolyn and William had no intention of putting their gifts under the tree, Elizabeth had her mind made up. But less than 24 hours later, she'd decided that she'd waited long enough to surprise me. So we sat down together and very carefully opened her gift.

Now, I've received a lot of gifts over the years.

I've received the most awesome pair of downhill snow skis (that my parents had cleverly hidden under my own bed - because who would think to look THERE?); I've received jewelry, pricey electronic gadgetry, underwear and dishtowels galore. But those gifts cannot hold a candle to this little pinch pot, lovingly created by my first grade daughter and carefully placed beneath our Christmas tree. It is the most meaningful and treasured gift I've ever received.

Fortunately for me, I'll get to enjoy it again on Christmas morning because soon after we opened the present, Elizabeth re-wrapped it and put it back under the tree. Her sweet gesture warms my heart. At seven-years-old, my little girl has a firm grasp on the joy of giving.

Parenthood. It just keeps getting better and better.