Over 22 years ago I started gifting photo calendars to my children's grandmother at Christmas. You've seen the kind I'm sure: a photo per month for the year...Gamma's always hung in her kitchen. It was nice to visit and check out the photo of the month each time.
I'm not sure of the year the calendar gift began, but my oldest wasn't born yet. The calendar was filled primarily with pictures of my then step-daughter. This was long before digital photography and I would take the stack of prints up to Kinko's Copies. The gal behind the counter would give me stickers with the months names on them. I would stand at the counter and put a sticker on the back of each photo, turn the whole thing in, then wait a week or so for Kinko's to call and say the calendar was ready.
The routine changed, but not the gift. Every year like clock-work, I'd be sure to make the calendar. The task grew more efficient each year as more vendors began making the calendars digital photos meant I could order without leaving the house. Each grandson's birth made for plentiful quality content. Without fail every year Gamma said the calendar was her favorite gift.
Gamma went into a nursing home last March. She turned 90 in May. At some point her son got the 2022 calendar from her house and hung it in the room at the nursing home. The holidays rolled around and though Gamma was clearly declining I put together a calendar nonetheless. We lost her on Christmas evening. Her calendar sits on an end table in the next room, no one wanting to throw it out but also not wanting to hang it up here at this house.
Today is my birthday. I am too old to think much of a deal should be made of it. I had heard from all three of my sons by 10 am so the day was complete in my mind. With the younger two off at college in Blacksburg, I knew I wouldn't see them. Jimmy, the oldest had said he'd stop by after work when I saw him yesterday.
True to his word, he showed up a bit after 5pm, with an apple pie (my favorite) in hand.
"I didn't wrap your gift so I'm hiding it under my jacket."
This task got old quick so he pulled it out and presented it to me:
With pictures for every month.
Photos of my life and the people I love with my whole heart fill the pages.
It has been a few hours since I got it and my eyes continue to well with tears.
I found the perfect spot in the kitchen to hang it, and once I did I stepped back and said,
"Gamma, the torch has been passed.
The tradition continues."
It's my favorite gift.