“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation and people to whom we are worth the same.” – Donald E. Westlake
The grandparents are the toughest to shop for at Christmas. They don’t want anything but they give us the world. About 5 years ago, we found the perfect gift for them – making a photobook filled with family photos from the year that had just passed. We include photos of our travels, the kids with the grandparents, and our ordinary days at home.
All of the grandparents adore this gift but it is truly a labour of love on our part. It’s the type of gift that induces tears both from the recipient (as they look through the finished product) and from the giver (as we make the gift). It is a long and tedious process picking our favourite photos from the year. As my children get older, they are more camera shy so the search for individual photos can be tough. There is often disagreement about what photos should be included and I have to be careful representing each child equally. It takes a good chunk of time to make these three albums.
I am embarrassed to say that we didn’t get the books done last year. We waited to make them at the last minute and then people in this house got sick and we just never got around to it after Christmas. We felt awful because our parents do a lot for us. They help with the kids, invite us regularly for home cooked meals, or take us out to dinner when I need a break. I don’t take them for granted. We have all worked hard in our relationships with each other to get to where we are now and I am grateful that they can still play such active roles in our lives.
They actually love seeing photos of what we’ve done this year. (Half the time I’m amazed at what we’ve done in a year). They may not have all understood what homeschooling was in the beginning of our journey, but they have been nothing but supportive. The books are displayed proudly on the coffee table and they sit and look at them with the kids every time we see them.
Although I secretly wish I could buy them all gift cards, I won’t. I will sit at the computer tonight for hours while the kids are snug in their beds. I will sort through thousands of photos and choose ones that each grandparent will love best. I will assemble the last two years of our life into a neat little book – a gift of time and place to people who wish they could be with us to witness it all.
Whether we spend money, time or energy, can we make the effort to give thoughtfully and to show up with an open heart? Can we face the long lines and the long nights knowing that the people that we love are doing the same for us?