You know how, sometimes, you get a Christmas present or birthday gift and you just can’t use it, or you don’t really like it, but you never do anything with it? And then, an occasion pops up months later, when you’ve been invited to a celebration—maybe a birthday or Christmas—and you forgot to get a gift. So you dig around in that drawer where you stuck that old, unused present, pull it out, wrap it up, and voilà! You now have a repurposed gift to bestow on an unsuspecting third party.
My sympathies if that is the situation in which you find yourself, but that’s not the kind of re-gifting I want to talk about today.
As I go through my deceased aunt’s treasures of family photographs and keepsakes, I’ve discovered a different kind of re-gifting. It’s one my aunt probably never dreamed she’d be party to. It involves a long trail of re-giftings, actually—like, my mother sent it to her mother who, on her passing, bequeathed it to her other daughter, who had no idea what to do with it, so she just stuffed the whole bundle in a storage bin to take care of later.
And then, she died.
And I got it.
It was a photograph of me, from a long time ago.
I hardly have any pictures from this stage of my life. As life sometimes goes, when my own father died, my distraught mother prepared to move out of our family home by, essentially, throwing out everything—including all the photos and eight millimeter films, too. Discovering this faded photograph does indeed become a gift—and a keepsake to help others remember this moment in our march of generations.
My mother must have sent it in a letter to her own mother, for the back of the photograph was inscribed in my grandmother’s handwriting. She identified me “and friend”—that older boy is not my brother, nor is the photo taken in my childhood home—and mentioned, “She has her Christmas present on.” My grandmother always sent clothing for Christmas and birthday presents; how well I remember the annual ritual at the conclusion of each occasion, when the rare long-distance phone call answered the question, “Does it fit?”
Apparently, the phone call after that particular Christmas answered her question in the affirmative.