the idea of "a best present" is not something i really like. best and worst, good and better, bad and worse, are such relative terms and there's always a giver behind a gift, a giver with feelings. there's really only one right answer to the question "what gift do you like the best" especially if its being asked by someone whose given you a gift. "yours" is usually what i say.
we had a bit of a bad moment on christmas, and typically, it was precipitated by something involving me. meg and libby - my two youngest daughters, ages 20 and 14 - took it upon themselves to give me a port-a-crib. i was at first perplexed why they'd give me such a thing, and then insulted that they did. (i'm as happy a grandmother as anyone, but i don't need it under my tree.) i thought i was remarkably restrained in the expression of my displeasure - it WAS christmas, after all. they thought i was mean.
have no fear, dear reader - the dust is settled, the tears are kissed away. mother's feelings and children's intentions have been recognized, validated, and appreciated. amends, in the form of a new present, have been offered.
but the ironic thing about all this, is that the two who gave me the worst present also gave me the best. no further is gift is necessary. this christmas, my two youngest daughters gave me the greatest gift of all.
under the most intense pressure, at some of the most pointed provocation, they responded with grace and dignity, kindness and hospitality in a way i could only have hoped they would. my mother in law loves her son, but in her aging, she exhibits the very worst of my mother - a tendency to over-dramaticise, and an in-your-face bluntness that has no regard for anyone else- with the very worst of my grandmother - manipulative, infantile, and deceitful.
and my daughters were right here in the trenches with me. they were unfailingly cooperative, kind, and helpful. libby gave up her bed. meg gave up her privacy. this was as much their holiday as anyone else's, and yet, they were able to set their own feelings, their own wishes and wants and desires aside, not for Beloved's mother - but for me.
yesterday i overheard Beloved ask meg what she thought about christmas, given all the chaos and tumult and comings-and-goings. i braced myself. my children aren't rude, but if you ask them an honest question, they tend to respond honestly.
"are you kidding?" said meg. "it was great."
"best christmas ever?" asked Beloved.
"best christmas of them all," answered meg. "it was great!"
in that moment, i knew that among whatever mistakes i've made and will continue to make, i've done Something Right that will continue to echo down the years and across the generations. there is no better present. ever.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.