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The best gift that money can't buy

What is the best non-commercial gift you’ve ever received, and why?
By Sonja L. Cohen
Winter 2011

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gift box (©rocksunderwater/iStockphoto)

(©rocksunderwater/iStockphoto)

UU World asked: What is the best non-commercial gift you’ve ever received, and why?

Natalie Palmer of Cascade UU Fellowship in Wenatchee, Washington, wrote: “When my sister graduated from high school, our Great Aunt Elvera gave her the dress our great-grandmother had worn to our grandmother’s wedding. Our grandmother passed away before our parents were married; gifts from her younger sister Elvera were always coveted items. Faded lace and satin, the dress was one of the most beautiful things we’d ever seen.

“When I graduated from high school, I eagerly opened the big white box from Elvera and could barely contain my disappointment when I pulled back the tissue paper to reveal . . . a yellow flannel clown suit. My sister got an heirloom lace gown, and I got a flannel clown suit?

“‘This costume,’ Elvera explained, ‘was hand sewn by your grandmother when she was 16 for a production by her high school’s drama club.’ Instantly, the grandmother I’d only known through pictures was brought to life in my hands. She’d been a girl, like me, who had carefully made this outfit. She’d embroidered smiling sunflowers on the buttons. A smudge of her makeup was on the collar. I felt connected to my family in a sudden and unexpected way.”

Yvette Roberts of Neighbourhood UU Congregation in Toronto, Ontario, wrote: “My son had gone to his dad’s on Mother’s Day weekend. I came home to a CD sitting on the coffee table with a note: ‘Sorry I forgot it was Mother’s Day. Listen to song number 9 and it says it all.’ It was Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama.’ I listened to it twice and cried. Sweetest gift ever! He clarified that only the chorus was relevant, not all the parts about being a drug fiend and mama getting him from jail.”

Karen Deal Robinson of Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, asked family members to give her Christmas memories. “They wrote up stories from their childhoods, recipes, copied photos. I put them all in a scrapbook, and it’s my all-time favorite Christmas gift.”

Other readers shared stories of receiving a love letter, songs, a poem, craft projects, handmade books, and the gifts of friendship, love, comfort, and personal time.

Let us know about your favorite gifts. Leave a comment below.


For the next issue: Many churches celebrate a Flower Communion in the spring. Which flower would you bring to Flower Communion, and what does it symbolize? Send your answer to world@uua.org.

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