Give a Written Gift as a Memory

Suzette Standring
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(Photo of Suzette Standring with granddaughters Lulu and Bella Baylon, Thanksgiving 2016)

At Thanksgiving, both love and gratitude are the centerpieces of the holiday.  They go hand-in-hand, like turkey and stuffing. Right around the corner is the giving season.  Why not use feelings of love and gratitude to recall family memories?  Then write them down. This year give a written memory as a unique gift.

Gratitude recognizes the giver, and in a world that makes many feel insignificant or anonymous, it’s wondrous to be seen and appreciated. The words “thank you” open the heart with pleasure.

At Thanksgiving, we bow our heads grateful for the blessings of The Big Four: family, friends, food and football.  Dinner talk is full of reminiscences.  Why not capture those memories on paper?

Our own backstories are full of people who have made a difference in our lives, like parents.  For example, my own dad and mom, Esteban and Josefa (later Americanized to Steve and Josie) were immigrants from the Philippines. They struggled with financial hardship, adapted to a new culture and country, all so we kids could run with our own dreams.

We lived in a very poor neighborhood, but my mother was proud of her refinement.  Once she had to write a sick note for me, and it read, “Dear Sister Mary Peter, please excuse my daughter’s absence as she was indisposed.”  I was in the fourth grade.  I read it and rolled my eyes, “Mom, what does indisposed even mean?  Just say I had a cold!”

My mother insisted, “Give it to your teacher. That way she’ll know I’m educated. Nobody else is using that word.”

How I wish my mother were still alive to read that.

We appreciate those who stand out for individuality.  My husband David always speaks of his Aunt Mary.  In England she was president of The Ramblers Society and took him at the age of 8 on 20-mile walks. She had eyebrows like thistles and a roaring laugh. Unmarried, she led a life that was wholesome, full, and jam packed with adventure.

Sometimes there is thankfulness for being steered in the right direction.  Forty-three years ago, my school friend Patty was the one who talked me into keeping my baby when I was 18, single and scared.  Now, two granddaughters later, there is only daily gratitude for Patty’s influence.

Pen a remembrance about a loved one and voila, a present that only you can give is created. Gratitude is a strong writing spark.

Our lives are filled with transformative moments, like when we are given opportunities that changed our lives.  We might be proud of a highlight on our resume, but more often, it was the chance someone took on us that put a career into motion.

Let giving thanks be a mindset of everything and everyone leading to this day.   Write about it.  The recipient of your written memory will be filled with gratitude.

This column ran in The Patriot Ledger (11/26/2016) and nationally through GateHouse Media.