I was listening to NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and I heard the saxophonist, Joshua Redman, playing some songs and talking about his father, tenor saxophonist, Dewey Redman. Dewey came to play at a recent recording session with Joshua. When they were done, Dewey asked to play a song on his own, without Joshua. Since it was Joshua's album, it was a strange request. But Joshua said OK and left to get some coffee. When he returned, his father was done. It only took one take and the name of the song was "GJ".
Joshua and his wife had recently had a baby, and this song was a gift to Dewey's grandson, Jaden. Dewey died shortly after the recording. This beautiful, soulful song will be a lasting legacy to his grandson. Jaden will grow up without knowing his grandfather, but he will have this very special gift, this song, written and performed just for him by this great Jazz musician.
After listening to this report, I started thinking about gifts we give to our children and our grandchildren. We want to be sure they have the best clothes, toys, books, sports equipment. Maybe one special toy or one special book will remain with them as they grow, but mostly they will grow out of the things we give them, unless we truly give them something of ourselves.
The holidays are fast approaching. The pressure is on to provide the latest fad toy or fashion. How will you gift your children? Your grandchildren? Who are you? What is special about you? What do you love to do? Believe in? Support? What kind of gift can you give to your children or grandchildren that says: ‘This is me. This is how I feel about you. This is what I want you to remember about me.’?
Perhaps it will be a handmade quilt or doll house, a story you write, a picture you paint, a special memento from your own parents you pass on, a camping trip, an afternoon spent fishing, a walk in the woods. Whatever it is, I urge you to think about what you want your children to know about you or your grandchildren to remember about you. Give them gifts that tell them something about who you are, what you know, what you love.
I love to sew and to knit. I also love camping and walking in the woods. Last year I knitted a sweater for each of my grandchildren. I did not make my deadline of Christmas, but they all got one eventually. This year I have been sewing clothes for my granddaughter’s American Doll. I plan to make a matching outfit for them for Christmas. This past summer I went camping with my son, daughter-in-law and two of my grandchildren. As often as we can, I take them for walks in the woods. And for gelato. We ALL love gelato! J
Give them memories in the here and now. Today may be all we ever "have", but our todays are built upon the days that came before. Long after the latest fad toy is discarded or given away, the time you spent together or the doll house you made will have a place of honor in your children’s lives and memories.
If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the blessing of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life. (Rachel Carson)
I wish you a very special and loving holiday season.