Every year, prior to Christmas, Dad would go out with Lindy and me and select something lovely that he thought Mary might condescend to wear. We would return home with joy, delighted with our purchases. Then we would wrap the marvelous gifts.
Christmas morning every year was the same thing. “I don’t like it,” or “I would never wear that,” or “You have got to be kidding,” were Mother’s three favorite responses. She would place the item back in its box and ask for the name of the store to which she should return it. Dad would look crest-fallen and Lindy and I were equally disappointed. We had all had such fun looking for the special gift and then, in thirty seconds, we felt like complete failures.
The last year Dad was married to Mary, he purchased a beautiful white cashmere sweater and a gold bracelet of semi-precious stones. Mary declared that he had spent too much for the sweater, but she decided to keep the bracelet (although she never wore it).
A few years ago, she was going through her jewelry and she asked if I wanted that bracelet. I jumped at the chance to have this valuable item not because it was valuable in monetary terms, but because I remembered how pleased Lindy, Dad, and I were when we bought it. It was a valuable memory for me, and I wear the bracelet to celebrate my dad’s good taste and wonderful sense of fun.
I also want to be reminded of the value of accepting a gift and enjoying it even if it is not exactly what you want.
As for Mother, she continued to be dissatisfied with her gifts. Her last few years, she kept demanding a pasta maker and wondering why Lindy and I would not provide it. Maybe it had something to do with her lack of ability to follow directions or maybe it was just that we knew which ever one we got would be the wrong one. Some people are never satisfied.