“with lots of love, always -“

My grandma’s Christmas gifts arrived in the mail today. She had originally mailed them November 20th, and after a journey back and forth across the Atlantic three times, they were finally delivered to our mailbox.

Her holiday cards and Birthday/Christmas gifts arrive like clockwork – always wrapped first in tissue paper then in matching gift wrap, sealed with a small ribbon bow. Her cards are from Hallmark, and signed the same, “with lots of love, always – grandma”.

The gifts are never anything big or ostentatious: something practical or handmade, knitted or crocheted. I love thinking of her in her straight backed living room chair, watching her old TV, dutifully creating for each child and grandchild she has, everyone getting something similar but unique; the whole family treated with equal care.

The reliability of her gifts and thoughtful cards is something perhaps I have taken for granted over the years. This quiet and dependable act of kindness has become something I simply expect. Despite where I am or who I am with, I know there will always be a card to open from my grandma on each holiday (St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter), and a present from her for each special occasion (my birthday and Christmas). When others forget or are late, grandma is always on time, always there, her pretty handwriting with the same NYC address.

Maybe that’s why I was so sad this holiday when the gift didn’t arrive. In a year when my grandma has not left her Manhattan apartment in over nine months, she still mailed my present, almost a month before it was due. Still, this last year was full of unexpected disappointments. Nothing to open on Christmas day, nothing to sniff that reminds me of her.

When it came today, I felt so much joy. I sat on the couch with my husband and opened her gift a few days late but with more gratitude than I have ever had before: a set of two pillow cases in a beautiful blue crochet. I sat with them for a long time, feeling thankful for this small but very important sign of normalcy. Despite their long journey and the many obstacles it took for them to make it here, this gift arrived, to help us lay our heads and rest in peace, because no matter what, grandma is there.

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