By Sharon Randall
Scripps Howard News Service
December 22, 2004
Like all good Christmas stories, this one begins with a need and ends with a miracle, sort of. You be the judge.
Once upon a time, there was a young woman who lived in Tennessee or Virginia or California-of-All-Places, or any place where Christmas is a time of wonder and beauty and giving. We'll call her Leigh.
Feeling the need to tighten Santa's belt, so to speak, Leigh's family (like mine and maybe yours, too) decided to draw names for Christmas.
So Leigh closed her eyes, wished on a Christmas star and drew the one name she wanted.
No, not her own; her mom's.
This was good. Because if Leigh could give only one gift to only one person on Earth, it would be a gift for her mom.
Not just any gift, mind you. No reindeer sweaters or fuzzy slippers or coffee mug racks or mini-food grinders or any of the stuff moms usually get - and always seem glad to get them.
She wanted this to be the best gift ever, one that would tell her mom just how much she means to her, a gift she'd never forget. Of course, it also needed to be fairly affordable, or she'd have to sell a kidney to pay for it. So it began, a quest to find the perfect gift for the perfect mom.
Have you ever noticed that moms aren't easy to shop for, even for a not-so-perfect gift?
If you ask what they want, they won't tell you. They'll say, "Just get me any old thing as long as it doesn't cost much. I don't want you to sell a kidney for me. Besides, you need to pay off your credit cards."
Two weeks into the quest, Leigh threw up her hands in desperation and decided, like a lot of children at Christmas, to put her request in a letter.
No, not to Santa; to me.
Here's part of what she wrote:
"My mom is the most caring person I know. She's always talking to total strangers and making sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome. She taught me to do unto others as I would want them to do unto me. She's always there to listen or help, and she's always had more than enough love for us all. I thank God every day for my family, for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful group of individuals. I want the world to know I am rich with love, hope, faith, trust and most of all, the best mom ever!" Good thing she wrote to me and not to Santa. Santa knows his stuff about picking gifts for kids, but he doesn't know squat about moms. If he did, we wouldn't get kitchen appliances and animal sweaters.
I am a mother, something that Santa, God bless him, will never get to be. I know what mothers want for Christmas and every other day of the year.
Here it is: We want to know what we mean to our children. We want to hear it from them _ that we make a difference in their lives; that no matter what we do or say, they know we mean well; and that when we get too old to drive to their place, they'll come see us or call every Sunday without fail.
Is that too much to ask?
So I took some of the things Leigh wrote about her mother (we'll call her "Pat") and put them in this column, hoping that when she reads it, Pat will know that every word was written for her. Not my words, of course; her daughter's.
It was also written for you and your mom - and in a sense, for me and mine, whom I lost some years ago at Christmas.
And therein lies the miracle: It is never too late to say what someone means to you. You can still say "I love you," even after a loved one is gone.
But if you put it in writing while they're still around to read it, it makes a great gift - the best gift ever.
And you won't have to sell a kidney to pay for it.
Sharon Randall is the author of "Birdbaths and Paper Cranes." She can be reached at P.O. Box 931, Pacific Grove CA 93950 or at randallbay(at)earthlink.net