One of the very best gifts I ever received didn’t come wrapped in holiday paper. There was no bow or cute little “Merry Christmas” card. It came around 10 am on a bright June morning in 1993.
In 1987, my husband, Nathan, and I purchased a ten acre tract of land in a beautiful little valley in Northwest Montana, with hopes of retiring there in 2008. We had an electric pole set and bought an 8 x 20 foot storage building. We wired our little “camp” and put in windows bought at a salvage yard. Shelving balanced on cement blocks (reminiscent of my college days) became our kitchen counter. Every August for the next five years, we’d come to Montana and spend our vacations “fixin’ up” our piece of the last best place. A neighbor gave us a hide-a bed and an old ice box. We cleared brush, picked out where we wanted to one day build our dream home, and under the star-filled big Montana sky, we decided our family was one person short. Our son was born nine months later.
Every year it got harder to leave Montana and return to Texas. In Texas, we’d worked hard and achieved “the American dream” – two kids, two cars, nice big house, and money in the bank. And we were miserable—trouble sleeping, short tempers, etc.
In June of 1993, we decided we couldn’t wait until August for our annual trek to our Montana paradise. After a four day drive, we arrived and started airing out the camp. I slept on sofa pillows on the floor and gave the bed to Nathan and the kids. We slept for ten hours. The next morning, Nathan came and sat by me on the floor. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Let’s not wait until 2008. Let’s move this summer.” Now I am a practical, pragmatic person, so I was a tad shocked when I heard myself heartily agree.
We bought a business, finalized plans for our log home, and went back to Texas to resign our positions, sell our properties, and say goodbye. Family and friends told us we were crazy. We agreed and kept on packing. That was twenty years ago.
Today, the business is sold, the kids have finished college, and Nathan is retiring this month. Because of his gift that June morning in 1993, we don’t have to “retire” to our vision of paradise. All we have to do is walk out onto our deck.
Have a blessed holiday season and thanks for stopping by.
When I was five, my grandmother gave me her piano (a big, upright monstrosity that took six men to move) on the condition that I learn to play it. I did, and when I left for college, my piano went with me. I helped pay my way through school by being the pianist for a small church, giving lessons, and playing for weddings.
Three years after graduating from college, I moved back to my hometown and bought a small, older house. The piano was too wide to fit through the door, so it had to go back to my parent’s home. For the first time since I was five, I had no piano to play.
Early one afternoon about two months later, my mom showed up at my door and announced that she had bought me a “gift” and it would be delivered shortly. An hour later a moving truck pulled up and three men unloaded a grand piano. As I stood there in shock, my mother explained she’d been hunting me a piano that would fit through the door. Someone had told her that you could take the legs off a grand piano and turn it up on its side to fit through narrow spaces. When she saw an article in the paper about a new grand piano being donated to a large local church, she contacted them about buying their older grand. She’d spent three years of savings to buy me that piano.
The grand took up half my small living room then, and now takes up a good chunk of my den. I bought a small spinet piano about ten years ago and that is the one I play the most. Friends and family have asked why I don’t sell the grand, but I won’t sell it. Family photos of four generations grace the top and every time I look at it, I remember what extraordinary efforts my mother went through so I’d have a piano to play. It’s not really a box of strings and keys, it’s a mother’s love disguised as a grand piano.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a blessed holiday season.