Friday, December 27, 2013


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.

What was 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.


  1. Such a pretty little girl!!

    I bet you were delighted to "find" this photo! The guy looks like he got a nifty big fire truck!

    (and the view out the window is interesting too!)

    1. Iggy, that view out the window is what clued me in to the fact that the photo wasn't taken at my own home. I would have been too young to remember the furniture, but I do remember the neighborhood. We lived in one of those early subdivisions with cookie-cutter houses. My house, in the middle of the block, would have been surrounded by exact replicas of my own place. The neighbor's house, closer to the end of the block, was close to homes which were there before our housing development--were larger and had different designs.

      I still remember that kid's name. His mother and mine were good friends.

  2. What a lovely gift! You must have been at your friends home and his Mom took a photo that was passed to your Mom who sent it to Grandma who gave it to your Aunt..that is lots of hands to go through before settling with you this Christmas! What a gift! I also admired the Shiny Brites on that tree...and you had knobby knees just like me:)

    1. Ah, the Shiny have an eye for those!

      Funny you should mention knobby knees. When you posted that on your own blog the other day, I almost blurted out how my mom used to agonize over her own childhood knobby knees. She'd often complain, even as an adult, how her mom used to dress her up in short dresses that left her knobby knees out there for all the world to gawk at. She really couldn't stand it.

      I never gave it a thought--although now I wonder if those knees don't have that knobby look more because they are hyper-extended than because they are inherently bony, themselves.

      Funny what ideas get fixed in the minds of kids...

  3. Wonderful example of re-gifting for the better!

    1. Thanks, Colleen. I certainly appreciated getting that kind of re-gifted present! I'm always up for a nice surprise.

  4. Treasure the memories, treasure the photo. Unfortunately, the old polarized camera photos do fade. I have lots of them like that and they are getting worse. I hope you find a way to preserve it.
    You were a cute little girl and maybe that was a childhood friend you played with at that age. Thanks for sharing your re-gift.

    1. Yes, that was a neighborhood friend from the earlier part of my childhood whom I remember well.

      Those old faded photographs do present problems. Especially this one. I often try fixing them through a feature on my Photoshop program, but for some reason, when I tried that for this picture, it only accentuated the red even more than what is showing in the original photo, so I left it the way it was. Thankfully, I have better luck with some of the other old photos, and I'm in the process of digitizing my old collections, especially the family ones.


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