The Gift of Words

What do you buy someone who has everything? I find myself pondering this very question as my parents’ milestone anniversary quickly approaches. This Valentine’s Day, they will be celebrating 65 years of marriage; an uncommon yet incredible feat in this day and age! What gift could possibly be fitting to acknowledge such a grand accomplishment?

I remember wrestling with this same dilemma when my mom and dad reached their 85th birthdays. It also seemed like a pretty big milestone and I knew they didn’t need any more trinkets for their mantle. They were already in the mindset of giving away personal items that were meaningful to them, ensuring each of their children and grandchildren received something they would cherish long after they are gone.

In all my pondering, I stumbled upon the perfect gift for those who seem to lack nothing or desire anything – the gift of words. So often, our deepest expressions of love are locked in our hearts, never uttered until they are tearfully written in an eulogy when it is far too late. When my mom turned 85, I asked each of her grandchildren to share their favourite memory of her. I compiled their thoughtful submissions in a simple cardstock book bound with a delicate pink ribbon and titled it “A Legacy of Love.” I was moved to tears, as was she, as we read the memories recalled by her now grown grandkids and the simple, but special moments that are forever etched in their minds.

When my dad turned 85, I embarked on creating a list of “85 Things I Love about You.” At first, it felt like a daunting task! 85 things! What was I thinking?! I began writing. Number one. You pin your socks together before they get washed. I chuckled at his quirky, yet strangely brilliant, habit and continued to write, and write, reliving each wonderful moment of being daddy’s little girl. Before I knew it, I had reached 85.  Though I could have easily kept going, my heart was full and I had to stop myself. My mom told me that this was the greatest gift I could have given him, and just knowing this was a special gift in itself to me.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I am beginning to think of that gift of words once again. How can I use it this time to craft a meaningful gift for my parents’ 65th? I vividly remember, forty years ago, penning a poem as an eleven-year-old girl to commemorate their silver 25th anniversary. It was all I could afford to give at the time, yet as I’ve grown older, I see that value doesn’t come with a price tag. I’m sure if I went through their boxes or drawers today, this yellowed, faded creation would be tucked away somewhere.

Words are a gift; they touch lives, transform hearts and have the power to keep on giving. While we may feel obligated to buy an elaborate gift to mark a special occasion, sometimes giving the gift of words is an equally thoughtful, intentional, and heartfelt gesture. There is always room in a home, and heart, for the precious gift of words.