I recently came across this article about childrens’ desks that strummed my heart chords. Like most people, I think of childrens’ bedroom furniture as a necessary staple to a child’s room along with bedding, drawers and carpeting. A child’s desk is merely a decorative piece of furniture with the primary purpose of storing things and providing a comfortable place to do homework. I never quite thought of my child’s desk as storing much, much more, like memories for both parents and children. Please take a moment to read this story – I promise it will fill your heart with warmth:
Now that my daughter is no longer a baby, I recently started packing up her baby things to donate or throw away. This is a tough task for moms as we tend to grow attached to our children’s baby things, envisioning memories inside stuffed bears and hearing the whisper of bedtime songs in their nursery bedding. After hours of sorting, packing and remembering, I sat down at my daughter’s toddler desk. This was an item that would never be given or thrown away. This was my old desk that my own mother lovingly stored and saved until I had a daughter of my own.
When my mother brought it to us, dusty from being kept in storage for many years, I recall she had said the strangest thing, “The best gifts keeping giving…long after the thank you is said.” It was a curious thing to say and she uttered the words with a little half smile that seemed almost cryptic. I don’t think I had ever seen my mother with quite that expression before. I didn’t understand her curious words or her smile at the time. With my own daughter calling for my attention, already banging the desk drawers opened and closed and the new baby screaming for a bottle, I certainly didn’t have time to contemplate the meaning of anything.
Now, feeling slightly lightheaded with emotion, I sat down at my daughter’s desk. It had seemed gargantuan for her when it first entered her room and now it could barely hold her. I felt the sturdy, solid construction as I perched on the tiny white chair. I ran my fingertips over the top of the desk, still smooth despite hours and years of story writing, coloring and painting. As my fingers moved over the surface I remembered the nights I would kneel beside Emma, helping her form her letters. Memories of hand-crafted birthday cards jumped into my head, giant “I love you, Mommy!” words written by her little hand. Suddenly, I couldn’t bear that my little girl was too big for this desk. Where had the years gone? I couldn’t imagine not peeking into her room and seeing her perched at this desk, head bent and brow furled in concentration, curls bouncing, her smile glowing.
I don’t know how it happened, but tears were suddenly pooling out of my eyes.
This is silly, get yourself together, I told myself. But, I wouldn’t listen to my own reasoning.
That’s how my own mother found me – a grown woman sitting at a toddler desk crying for no reason at all except that her little girl was all-too-soon a big girl.
“What are you doing?” my mother asked me.
My mother said nothing, somehow always knowing when no words were needed.
“Remember when Emma made Granddad that card when he was in the hospital?”
My mother entered the room and placed a gently hand on my shoulder, “Sure, she wrote ‘Get better soon, mom won’t give me any candy.”
My mother’s voice was low and soft, soothing, “Many good memories here at this desk. I remember watching you learn your alphabet. How your eyes would light up when you would spell a word right for the first time!”
My mother brushed her fingers across the smooth wood where I had just touched moments before, “I remember picking out this desk for you. It was more than we could afford, but I just knew it was perfect for you.”
There was a heavy silence in the room, both my mother and I contemplating our own memories.
“The best gifts are those that keep on giving…long after the thank you is said,” my mother said.
And suddenly, like a thunderbolt to my brain, I understood. After all those years, I finally got it. This desk, this simple piece of furniture housed more than just pens and markers and crayons. It contained my thoughts and dreams and secrets from when I was a little girl. They were all there, engrained in the wood forever, now enjoined with the hopes and loves of my own little girl. The best gifts do keep on giving, year after year, generation after generation. Quality, meaningful gifts like this little girl’s desk that my own mother selected lovingly for me so many years ago.
The best gifts keep on giving…long after the thank you is said.
“Thank you, Mom. For everything.”
She issued me another cryptic smile. Just then Emma stormed into the room, finding all her baby toys boxed up.
“What are you going to do with my old desk, Mom?” she asked me, her blue eyes full of the dreams that she had already dreamed and someday would live.
“Keep it, of course.”
“What for?” she asked.
“For somebody very special. The best gifts keep on giving.”
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