Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

The Best Gift Of All

on March 19, 2013


I was never able to give my kids much when they were growing up.  I was a single mom with 3 kids and very little child support coming from Plaintiff Number One.  It was a struggle just to keep a roof over their heads, food in their mouths; I used to break out in cold sweats when all three needed new clothes for school.

I tried my best at Christmas and holidays; luckily my family would usually take up the slack of what I couldn’t afford.  But, the kids and I had some really tough times; sometimes their Christmas presents came from local charities and their birthday presents sometimes had to wait until the next paycheck…it was the rent or else!

One Christmas was especially dismal for me.  I had worked on my budget and figured out how to rob Peter to pay Paul enough that I hoped to be able to spend most of my child support check on the kid’s Christmas presents and stockings.  I received the check in the mail and put in in my pocketbook to take to the bank the next day.  My friend from work treated me to lunch that day and when I got back to work I discovered that I had left my pocketbook in the restaurant!  I ran back to the restaurant; but they said no-one had turned in a purse.  I was devastated;  I had no idea how to get my kid’s any gifts for Christmas.

I reworked my budget and was able to squeeze out enough money to buy each child one gift and one gift only.  Christmas morning I watched as the kids opened their present with a heavy heart.  I felt like the world’s worst mom.

But, they didn’t complain; they didn’t whine and we spent the day playing games they already had and we just enjoyed each other’s company.  Two days after Christmas the restaurant manger called and told me they had found my purse (with the check in it).  They explained that there had been a shift change and they had locked my purse in the safe until they could locate me.  I was able to pay the bills I pushed aside and was able to take the kids shopping to pick out some things they had on their Christmas list but didn’t get.

I have never forgotten that Christmas and I hope I never feel that low and worthless again.   Like any mother, I wanted the world for my kids;  I’ve always regretted not being able to give them a beautiful home (ours was also clean if shabby), clothes that weren’t hand-me-downs and trips to Disney. Somehow, my kids grew up not any worse for wear by not having all the benefits of being raised in a wealthy home.  They grew up to be responsible adults; they all work and are good at any jobs they’ve taken and they are all good kids.

When my granddaughter came along, I again wished that I could make every one of her dreams come true.  I wanted to give her the world; I still do.  But, although life is not as hard as it was when my kids were little, I still have to watch my money and am unable to splurge on expensive presents for her as I wished I could.  But, like my kids, she neither expects or wants me to empty my pocketbook for her and often chastises me when I try to spend money on something for her.  Her parents have given her a great set of values and I don’t believe she is capable of being selfish.

So, even though I can’t spoil my grandchild; I give her the only present that I know will last a undying love.  And in the end, isn’t that the best present of all?


25 responses to “The Best Gift Of All

  1. Yes, yes and yes again.

  2. andshelaughs says:

    I LOVE this post! I’m a ‘single mom’ too, and although I many nights my money woes have kept me awake, I have a really, really good kid. Thanks for sharing.

  3. ericaatje says:

    Well said!!! I was raised in the same way… I had to wear hand-me-downs too and I still don’t mind. I go to second-hand stores or buy cheap clothes myself. I also learn my stepkids the value of things although their real mother is very different. She gives one of her kids everything she wants and the other gets nearly nothing. Strange, but I hope she at least knows the values of things instead of just getting what you what, like her sister.

  4. I raised my kids the same way – doing what I could which never felt like enough when I wanted to give them so much more. They survived, they have awesome stories to share from their childhood…and more often than not its about the things we did together than the items they did or didn’t receive.

  5. What a beautiful story! You gave your kids and are giving your granddaughter the best give of all “You.” I know how you feel, because I always wish I could give my grand kids more. But I think they will remember how I played dolls with them, the cookies we baked, and how we ran around the backyard laughing and blowing bubbles more than they will ever remember the new toys I didn’t bring to them.

  6. ahamin says:

    You are really blessed with your kids and grand kids.
    There are a lot of children who appreciate material objects more than the most important thing in the world… Love.
    God bless them all, and god bless you.

  7. Aurora says:

    I was nodding when I read this. I have been there many a year, and in a way my husband and I still are. Thor’s first Christmas was some pajamas and a stuffed Pooh from his dad’s mom.

    I remember one year I had about ten or fifteen dollars to spend apiece on my older kids for toys. I was standing in line at the department store trying to add it all up and make sure I had enough for the tax and that it came out to the same ammount of packages. (having the same number of things under the tree was a huge thing with them) I think it was a couple of cheap barbie dolls and some hot wheels cars and a little nerf football for my son.

    I lady behind me in line started talking to me, and found out those presents were all I had. She grabbed me out of line and asked me what my kids had wanted most for Christmas that year. I remember that my son had wanted a batmobile for his action figures, and my daughter had wanted a white stuffed cat that purred and meowed when you petted it. She bought both of them, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’ve never forgotten it.

    There are years we’ve had more, there are years we’ve had less, but I hope they at least remember that I cared, and always made sure there was something. My oldest daughter still gets excited even over small things, like a book she wants, or movies, she doesn’t ask for the moon…thankfully.

    • What a wonderful story. You found on angel on Christmas! I’m sure there are many moms like us who feel they wanted to do more, but just couldn’t. I’m here to tell you, the kids turn out o.k. even if they didn’t get everything they wanted!

  8. Not quite 40 says:

    A friend of mine at school was one of 6 children. I remember going to her house once and her showing me a present her mum had made for her – a big jam jar full of 365 pieces of paper, each with something nice written on it. She loved the present, and it made such an impression on me that I not only remember it still but used it as inspiration for an advent calendar for my son.

    It only occurred to me NOW that her mum may have felt she had so little to give. I only know that the amount of thought, effort and love given far outweighed any tangible cost.

  9. Basharr says:

    I had an MIA father, my mother was single every couple years or so, my grandparents raised me and I will tell you I did not get everything I wanted, but what I did get was unconditional love. I was taught to fish, hunt, cook, and survive on my own. The perks rock and once in awhile I got one but nothing compares to the time I spent with two people who have since left this world. It was the love that mattered most.

  10. keladelaide says:

    I think children would rather be spoilt with love rather than gifts any day of the week. I also think there’s a difference between being spoilt and spoilt rotten.

  11. Gwen says:

    What a great story with a happy ending! Nothing can replace a parent’s time and love. I recently reduced my work hours to part-time (I have that luxury; I realize many don’t) – for the purpose of reducing stress on the family and spending more time with my kids. Though they almost never express it, I know they love having Mom home more. It’s time I’ll never get back, so I want to make the most of if.

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