Anniversary Souvenirs

THIS morning, while rummaging through my spacious treasure-chest of memory to find the gift of love I needed in my longing for children's laughter, I came across a box carefully wrapped and labeled, "Anniversary Gifts, 1934."

Tears flowed freely as I opened each parcel wrapped in plain brown wrapping paper and saw the cherished gifts and the childish writing on the homemade, flower-decorated cards. The first revealed a small rag dolly fashioned out of old white knitted underwear by the untrained hands of a little daughter of eight, the face worked in black uneven stitches, the body stuffed with bits of underwear cut fine by fingers that yearned to do artistic work like her twelve-year-old sister. Her gift, when opened, proved to be a hanky made from a salt sack, hemmed and embroidered by small hands which at that tender age were prophetic of her later skill.

A bitter-sweet fragrance escaped as I began unwrapping the next gift, a "bookay of buetiful dandelines" from my four-year-son whose note had been written by his older brother. Again I saw the childish beauty of this curly-haired "little brother" gathering the flowers for me. Again I heard the lilting music of his laughter.

I opened the last parcel with the hands of love tightening about my heart, and pearls of tenderness illumining my eyes, for the lad whose gift this was, is with us no more. Tied to the handle of a little basket made of burrs and filled with moss and wild violets, was a note in a loved, remembered boyish scrawl: "I have no muney, but I luv you."

Again I saw this lad as a chubby babe of two sitting in the dooryard of a rented home, sans lawns and flowers, pulling bunch after bunch of the first tiny redroots of spring and laughing for very joy as he saw the pink rootlets. Seeing me watching, he held up a handful, calling, "See! Pitty, mama, pitty!"

He loved beauty even then and found it in the pink of the roots of weeds. I recalled how, as he grew older, he was always bringing me starts of flowers for the window, and later on for a garden by our very own home. With gratitude in my heart that God had let me keep him until he was mature, I offered up a prayer that he is finding beauty in the heavenly gardens as he walks through them at sunrise as he loved to do here.

What wealth was mine that morning as each shyly gave his gift!

Since then I have received beautiful and costly gifts, but none have given me greater joy than those simple offerings of love on that anniversary in "our poverty year" when there were no nickels to spare.