from a plastic sack of jumbled clothes, four piles of little outfits form. the denim, blue and plaid are held and then folded into place for Ari. the red, the white and the blue are matched perfectly for Elin. the black and white are divided by sizes for Dot and Vi. each outfit chosen for a great grandchild with intention and purpose and ages of love.
GG shopped alone at the store and a young sales girl helped pick out sizes, making certain that each little one had an equal share, the same size pile.
then it was time. time to wrap each pile. wrapping becomes the entire activity of the day. wrapping takes on new meaning after a stroke. part of the brain says, “it just doesn’t matter, just wrap it up. who cares? who will notice?” deeper down, far away from the brain, deep down in the heart of a great-grandmother there is something that says, “this matters. this baby girl, this baby boy matters in the lineage of my soul. i care. i know.”
we head to the three drawers of wrapping paper, ribbons, tape and cards. there really are three full drawers of choices. we begin with Ari. mom touches each roll of paper, most recognized as Christmas wrapping. she is intent on finding the perfect color, the perfect pattern, the perfect feel and texture to wrap up his overalls and button down shirts. a sound of glee slips out when she finds the blue Christmas soldier paper and declares it just right for his package.
digging through each drawer we find dog biscuits, an old sterling necklace, photos to look through and identify, random safety pins and old pens, scissors and receipts, tiny boxes with gift tags and bags of all sizes for birthdays and Easter and fourth of july. finally we find a package of tissue paper in four colors. which color for Ari? blue or green? pink or yellow?
the bundle of the marching soldier was taped and it was time for ribbon. laying out multiple shades of blues and greens and purples, GG decides on the exact combination of blue and green and insists on tying it herself. a tiny ceramic soldier, found in the drawer, was wired onto a picture perfect present.
picking up the red knit dress and onesies for Elin, mom wonders aloud if she will be able to find just the right paper. again we stand in front of the three drawers. how will she know the right color, the right paper, the perfect match for baby girl Elin? again, the sound of glee. of recognition. of the right wrapping paper for this precise baby girl. shades of blue, little girls with heads of curls, old fashioned, cherubic cheeks and gentle smiles. again, declared just right for enfolding the little girl clothes.
each tissue and each ribbon. it can’t be the same as anything used before and it must match the outfits. each ribbon, each tissue are held against the paper. try another combination. and another. until the regal purple ribbon ties the gift up just right.
only GG could envision a three year old Dot in black and white, in skinny jeans, side zip sweatshirt and diamond leggings and yet….years ago i learned that “yet” meant “who’da thunk it?” and the pile of clothes chosen are quintessential dorothy. the hunt for the ultimate paper was complicated, yet, GG was undeterred. somewhere in the three drawers was the exact gift wrap to hold black and white. out came the roll – fuchsia and pink and red, with splashes of orange and gold. as the red tissue paper wrapped itself as a first layer, the wrapping paper was tied with a wide, wide golden ribbon, shiny on one side, velvet on the other and again, it was just what GG imagined.
finally the last wee set of clothes, again black and white were held and touched and loved. GG discovered a single piece of golden foil paper, littered with angels and wings and star-dust and glee. yellow tissue paper held the striped leggings, the shirt, the knits and the skinny matching jeans for baby girl Vi. it was all tied up in a bow of red glitter ribbon. and, it was perfection.
i am just a grandmother. i am the wrapper. i am the helper, the listener. the seer. the storyteller.
i am the daughter of the woman who remarkably spent over 2 hours creating outer containers of beauty as an expression of her love for her great-grandchildren. one may never know the depth of her love. no one may notice the matching papers and ribbons and clothes. it may not matter how long it took her.
yet, i am able to share the story. i watched her change and exchange the Christmas presents for Ari and Elin and Dot and Vi into a gift of presence, infused with intimacy, tenderness and understanding that comes from her lineage of self expression, creativity and deep profound love for her children, her grandchildren and now her four little greats. just has she has done for her children and grandchildren for years. so much unknown, unseen.
she offers us her presence.