Jet did her own Christmas shopping this year at her school’s Secret Santa shop. Just the thought of it raises a lump of nostalgia in my throat. I loved the excitement of her mother and aunt as they sallied forth to spend their own money on perfect gifts and I’ve never forgotten my own first experience as well.
My grandmother took me downtown on the bus to the Little Tike’s shop at Rike’s Department Store. I dressed in my best clothes and shoes. We waited in line so I could visit with Santa and have my photo taken. Animated scenes and blankets of glittery cotton snow lined our path. After greeting Santa and Mrs. Claus, we came to a small door, too low for a grownup to enter. Grandma told an elf how much money I had to spend and how many gifts I hoped to buy. She waited outside while the elf ushered me through the door. Inside, other elves were busy showing children their wares.
I don’t remember what I purchased that day, but I doubt it was as meaningful as the present Jet selected for me. She was so excited to give it to me that I could only pray that my joy to receive it might begin to match her expectations. The moment the wrapping slipped away, I knew: Jet had bought me a memory. A wonderful memory of wonderful days spent together. Her gift may have looked odd to the rest of the room, but I loved it completely and sincerely.
No one could love a large orange foam dice cube more. I knew immediately why she thought of me when she saw it. Last summer I impulsively bought a Tenzi game from the checkout lane at a hardware store and accidently discovered a game we both enjoyed. We played for hours shaking our cups, spilling them out and attempting to be the first to get all our dice to show the same number. Jet and I both love putting things in order. It’s also the perfect game to practice being a gracious winner or loser as almost no skill is required.
My dice cube has a place of honor on the mantle so I can see it whenever I look up from my favorite spot on the couch, right next to the paper mache dog her mother made for me. As I catch sight of it, I feel two little arms wrapped around my neck and a little voice whispering in my ear, “Gramma! My Gramma!”