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Monday, February 12, 2018

This Week's Thought: February 12, 2018

The pile of brand new nightgowns (mostly flannel with ruffles) were in a neat stack in my grandmother's armoire. We discovered them when my grandmother's health started to fail and she needed to move in with a family member for more help with her day-to day life. There they were, brand new nightgowns with tags from Forbes & Wallace, Steigers and G. Fox, along with sweaters never worn and a soft blanket never cuddled in.  An enormous pile representing years of Christmas and birthday gifts.

My mom and I stood there incredulous. "Mom," my mother asked my grandmother. "Why didn't you ever wear any of these? I gave them to you to wear because you were always cold." She flipped through the pile, touching every soft nightgown, pausing a moment to feel the cool pearl button on one.

My grandmother looked at my mother and said "I was saving them for the hospital or a special occasion." (Note: My grandmother has never been in the hospital other than for childbirth.) At the time, we had so much to do to clean out her house that I didn't think much of it but over the years, I have pondered her choice. She put off being happy/cozy/warm because she didn't think she deserved it at the time. This makes my heart break.

I thought of this recently. When I was back home in Massachusetts, a friend gave the baby an expensive stuffed toy. It was for no occasion other than "I love you, little one." When we got home to Seattle, I unboxed it and put it on her shelf so she could see it. I thought someday, when she is old enough, she would play with it. Then, I thought about my grandmother and all the moments in her life that could have been happier but she saved her "too pretty or too expensive" things for someday.  I looked at Waverly napping in her crib, the sunshine streaming in past the little starfish in the window above her bed. There are so many things I want to teach her, I want her to know that happiness is something that isn't saved for a special occasion. Don't save the pretty dress or the wedding china or the pearls you got for  graduation. Use them, wear them. Live today with joy, remember the love that someone gave to you along with the special present. Don't put the stuffed toy on a shelf.

Before I sat in the rocker next to her crib, I walked over to her bookcase, took the bear down from the shelf and placed it on her crib next to her. As I gently rocked, I watched Wave sleep. When she woke up, she turned her head, saw the bear, smiled, squealed and pulled it to her it to her chest with both hands in a big hug. It was joy. And one of my first lessons I hope to teach my daughter. Happiness is an everyday occasion.

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