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20140428_094756On one of the spring vacations my family took, we were in a gift shop full of tchotchkes. Neither my husband nor I am fond of tchotchkes, and I was ready to move on. Nothing in the store looked interesting to me. But our children wanted to browse, to find some small mementoes to take home from the trip.

Then I saw my daughter pulling her brother over to their father. The kids giggled, and my husband frowned. Then he nodded.

My son approached me and pulled me over to something he wanted to look at. He collected pens with pictures of the national parks and other sites we visited, so maybe he wanted me to buy him a pen. I don’t remember what we looked at. He distracted me sufficiently that I didn’t notice what my daughter and husband were doing.

Anyway, we left the gift shop and went on with our travels.

My daughter had a secret. I could tell, because she was bubbly, eager to talk about something, but she didn’t say a word, kept her lips zipped.

We used to tease her, because she was not good at keeping secrets. Up until the time she was in grade school, we could ask her, “What are you giving me for my birthday?” and she would tell. One year she and her brother were giving me a blouse. I asked her what my gift was, and she told.

When we laughed at her, she said “At least I didn’t tell you what color.” So I asked “what color?”

“White,” she said. And then burst into tears.

This time, within hours or a day at most of our visit to the gift shop, she couldn’t keep it in. “We got you a present,” she said. She handed me a small brown paper bag, folded into an even smaller square. “Happy Mother’s Day.”

My husband and son gathered around as I opened the sack.

Inside the bag was a heart-shaped china box, a little trinket for pills or pins or other treasures. Inside the pillbox was the message “God Bless Mom.”

“Did we surprise you?” my daughter asked.

I nodded. I’d suspected something was up, but the gift was a surprise—a delightful early Mother’s Day gift. I may not like tchotchkes, but I smile every time I see this one. It still sits on my dresser today, over twenty years later.

Mothers, what little gifts from your children do you hold dear?

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