Over the years my Christmas gift preparation list has changed. That is to be expected, right? Children are born, they get older, people move away, and so on. Some can no longer have the sweets or would rather have a book than a sweater. After my great-aunt who sent us a Whitman’s sampler every year died, I used to get one each Christmas–until food allergies struck that one off the list. My experience with the Advent Conspiracy study two years ago changed the kind of gifts on my list. Seems like there have been changes to the list every year.
And this year is no different.
Each year the first gift I buy has almost always been my Mama’s. Years ago, I don’t remember how long ago, I introduced Mama to Mary Engelbreit. She started off using the wall calendar just like I did, but eventually she graduated to a weekly planner and a page a day–mostly for the beautiful paintings and inspirational messages. You’ve never seen anyone who organized a calendar so well. In the back she had cards she’d printed out with the most important addresses and contacts and all of the birthdays for her family–her children, grandchildren, cousins, and grand-nieces and nephews. She never missed honoring their special day in one way or another. She had appointment cards she’d saved from the previous year that she entered on January 1. Oh to be as organized as she was! Somehow I missed that gene, and I mourn it quite often.
Years ago a couple of us children would toss out gift ideas for Mama and we’d make sure someone was getting her calendars for her. I think it might have been when we moved to Japan that it became a given that me and mine were getting the calendars. I have enjoyed deciding where I could get the best price on them (she wouldn’t have it any other way–she was the Queen of bargain shopping). I loved looking at the covers and peeking at one or two pages in her planner before wrapping them. Over the years a quick glance at the calendar on her desk could tell what her week’s outings were. It would make me smile to see where she had gone back and written “Tara and Crew :)” (smiley face hers) on a day that we had been visiting. During the years that she and Daddy were playing logic games on the computer, they decided to play through the “levels” in order. Mama would write what level they left off on at the top of the page a day. Then they’d know which game to start with the next day. If the page a day calendar message was one that made her think of you, she tore it off and saved it to give to you or to tuck in a card. If it didn’t, she folded it and put it in her round crystal dish and used the backside for grocery lists or notes or other things you need scratch paper for. They are still sitting on the counter at her house, as is the page a day, still on January 17 of this year. The day she left for her Hospital Stay.
This year I am missing having those perfect square packages to wrap. I will miss how Mama always knew we wouldn’t forget to get her those calendars, and yet she’d be so pleased and seem so surprised that we did remember. Last Christmas she told me to pick out my own planner and she’d “surprise” me with it. I just ordered my 2014 book the other day, so all of this is on my mind and heart. I just miss her. Everything about her. Her calendars were a big part of who she was. They tell her story.
If you know of someone who would love the wit and wisdom and whimsy of Mary Engelbreit, let me know. I think my Amazon cart is crying out, “What is going on?” as for so many years, especially those when we were out of the country, that is how I got them for Mama. I would love to share it with someone you love, as that is how Mama rolled. Always thinking of how she could help someone else. Even when she was feeling so sick herself, we had several conversations about her wanting to find a way to help this person or that situation. She just loved folks, and it showed in how she lived. So in honor of Mama, if you know of someone who would enjoy a surprise treat this holiday, and in the spirit of FunGiving, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll choose someone randomly to send the surprise to from YOU. Send me a note by midnight Tuesday, December 10th, EST and tell me about your special person, why they are “good company,” and whether they’d love a planner or a page a day calendar. I’ll contact you on Wednesday if your special sisterfriend or awesome family person is the chosen one.
Thanks for playing along. It’s all about making our own fun and sharing joy despite our heavy hearts. Sharing one of Mama’s favorite things with someone you love will be muchly fun and bring a smile to my heart. In the words of the themes of next year’s Mary Engelbreit calendars–“Keep Good Company” and make this the “Best Day Ever!” Love to all.