Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

A special thanks to Therese Nagle for another heartfelt guest-post.  And a Christmas theme, too! Enjoy...

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

 Ah, Christmas. In the midst of all the holiday preparations and busyness, a constant theme for many is trying to find meaning and significance. We all want to create fond memories for our children. We want to find that “perfect gift” that is remembered for years. We want to acknowledge the important people in our lives. Sometimes, we get lucky. A small act or gift can spark many things – memories, kindness, laughter, love. Good stuff that spreads all kinds of good feelings for years. I am so very lucky to have shared a holiday tradition with a wonderful person for the last 29 years – my Mom – Mary Modesta Nagle.

It started innocently enough. In 1983, I sent out Christmas cards for the first time. I had graduated from college the previous spring, and some might remember a big recession and slim job prospects for a newly minted grad with a liberal arts degree. I was living in Iowa City, working at a day care center, without benefits and not much salary – a very hand-to-mouth existence. I needed a “real job” to make enough to meet my student loan obligations. On the card I sent to my parents, I wrote, “a new year too, maybe I'll even find a job.” In the next year, I did find a “real job” and moved to Minneapolis. In 1984, my Mom sent the same card back with “you did!”

Well, that very same card has been traveling between Iowa and Minnesota ever since. The card morphed into two, had paper taped to the back and now travels with a note pad for the current year's sentiments. I have no words to describe how much this card means to me. Twenty nine years represent a lot of life. We each tear up when we read over what we have written to each other over the years. We have had great joy, great sorrow, challenging times, joyful times. We both have admitted to each other that the card is stored in our respective safes during the year we keep it. The card is incredibly important to both of us.

As some of you may remember from my earlier stints as a stand-in on Sara's blog, I am one of the 10 Nagle children that grew up in Sara and Matt's house. Yep, my parents raised 10. My Mom has done amazing things in her life. Something truly remarkable is that she manages to have a unique relationship with each of us. About 15 years ago, I was telling some friends about the traveling Christmas card. A friend asked me if my Mom has traveling cards with any of my siblings. The question prompted me to ask my Mom. “No” she told me, “only you.”

Something so simple and inexpensive has grown exponentially. An offhand comment about finding a job sparked a decades-long tradition that brings laughter, tears and closeness between my Mom and I in ways that would be next to impossible to duplicate any other way. Some things in life are genuinely amazing. This card is one of them. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Therese and her mom

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