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The Last Gift

A few months ago, we received a gift card for $75 when Josh’s aunt was closing up his grandmother’s accounts after death.  I know the natural initial thought is: what fun.  But we were also told the gift card would expire on January 21, 2013, and we suddenly felt a tremendous amount of pressure to get something that would honour her and help the kids remember her; a final gift from their great-grandmother.

By the time we returned to thinking about the card, we had two weeks left before it expired.  My stomach was in knots every time we thought about it.  We couldn’t put it toward a trip because we needed to use the money by the 21st and we hadn’t time to travel.  While there were things we needed insofar as home repair, there wasn’t enough time to make an informed decision.  We didn’t want to squander it on groceries or media.  We wanted the gift to be monumental, yet we had no ideas what sort of gift would feel monumental.

We finally decided that we would get the Fallingwater Lego set, and then take the kids to Fallingwater in the spring.  It would honour his grandmother’s love of art and travel.  It would be fun for the kids.  And it would rewrite a location casualty into something beautiful.

We were down to the final day of the gift card, the morning of the 21st, and it was time to commit to this idea.  And I wanted to throw up.  I literally couldn’t handle the idea of going to Fallingwater.  But we had no other plan.  So we started to throw out ideas.

We would get a guinea pig to become Cozy Jackson’s best friend, and we’d make a movie about them called “An Unlikely Duo” about their epic rodent friendship.

We would get a clock for the kitchen so we could look at the time and think about Grandma every morning while we eat banana muffins.

We would get a few seasons of Doctor Who because Grandma liked the BBC and we like aliens.  It’s a win-win.

We would quickly put it towards a plane ticket to… somewhere.

We would get each child a piece of jewelry gifted posthumously from their Great-Grandmother.

And the clock kept ticking down.

At 9 o’clock with three hours to go, we finally settled on a book and a clock; not things that we were particularly jazzed about in terms of being final gift-worthy, but which felt okay.  We started filling out the order form online, and as Josh went to pay, he looked down at the card and said, “Melissa, this expires in 2021.”

I got the letter which clearly told us to spend it by 1/21/13.  So Josh called the gift card company and spoke to customer service who informed him that no, it expired in 2021.  Josh dryly told him he would circle the date on his calendar.

I don’t know if gaining an extra eight years has really helped us in the long run.  I have a terrible feeling that we will forget about it until 2020, and then stress about it for a year.  But I can’t even express how happy we were on the 21st when we all skipped upstairs, granted clemency from decision-making for the time being.  The gift still to come, so in a way, her life not really over.


1 Chickenpig { 01.24.13 at 8:46 am }

The gift card is so cool! I like the idea of a clock. A piece of art work, a print or sculpture may be nice, or a nicely framed picture of her.

They passed a law here in CT, so now gift cards never expire. They are considered like cash…which doesn’t have an expiration date, so why should a gift card? So…theoretically, if you bought something from CT with that card it will probably be good indefinitely.

2 magpie { 01.24.13 at 10:03 am }

You know, money is fungible. Use the gift card to buy groceries now, and when the perfect right thing becomes known to you, use the grocery money to buy the gift from the grandmother. That’s what I would do, anyway.

Or, buy the Fallingwater Lego set, along with a coffee table book about Wright with great pictures of the real thing.

3 a { 01.24.13 at 11:41 am }

Not fun to me – I would feel obligated to get “SOMETHING” – and how difficult to pick the proper remembrance. Is it for Josh, since it was his grandmother? Should it be something for the family? Should there be two things – one for each child? SO MUCH STRESS! And add in a timeline…ugh. At that point, I’d have just gone out for a nice dinner on Grandma.

However, I think that in the back of your mind there will be a mission, and when you happen upon the perfect thing, you’ll be ready.

4 Denver Laura { 01.24.13 at 11:52 am }

I had a huge stash of gift cards last year and made it a top priority to spend all of them by New Year’s. I only have 1 card left now so I feel pretty good about that goal.

Perhaps you could circle the grandmother’s birthdate on the calendar and make it a goal to spend the gift card by that date? Making it a goal and setting a deadline means it’s more likely to happen.

5 Lisa @ hapahopes { 01.24.13 at 12:15 pm }

My grandmother left me an afghan she had made. I still have it and I curl up in it all the time, especially when I’m sick. It’s nice to have something comforting like that.

My most treasured possessions from both of my grandmothers, though, are handwritten notes they sent me. I can hear their voices when I read them and they are filled with so much love.

Your post just gave me nice grandma memories. Thanks. 🙂

6 Pepper { 01.24.13 at 1:40 pm }

I will be inheriting some money from a relative who passed away several years ago. It will come to be sometime (relatively speakmng) soon. It is turning out to be more than I expected (not millions, ha ha, but a lot to me). I too feel pressure to do something with it… something. My husband thinks I should put it towards a car. That to me just feels… blah. Even though I need a car, probably. But that’s because what, deep down, I want to put it towards is adopting a second child. But I’m a little afraid to say that aloud too many times for fear… well fear of something, I guess. So I’m just waiting. But I get it, your stress. And then I think about how happy this very special relative would be, to know his money went towards a family…

7 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.24.13 at 11:42 pm }

That’s a dilemma. I don’t know what we would have done. But I would have similarly enjoyed the clemency.

Now you can take a trip to a location that excites you. Can I interest you in some mountains?

8 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 01.25.13 at 2:49 am }

I second the vote for mountains. Mountains! Mountains!

And I totally agree that money is fungible and it doesn’t need to be that actual $75; it can be replaced later with any $75.

9 Mali { 01.25.13 at 9:15 pm }

You are a scream! I totally laughed when I got to the bit … “with three hours to go …” I laughed because I could imagine doing it all myself – worrying about getting just the right thing. In the end though, it doesn’thave to be “just the right thing.” I received money from my grandmother’s will almost 30 years ago. I bought my first food processor. I did think it seemed a little extravagant, buying such a new fangled contraption, especially as my grandmother always went without. But you know, every time I use it I think of her. And 30 years later, it is still going strong – it’s the little food processor that could. Much like my small, feisty, strong grandmother.

10 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 02.06.13 at 11:21 am }

Well, you have eight years, so this might not be a relevant thought. But I would spend the card on groceries or something else you’d be buying anyway, then I would put an equivalent amount aside into sort of “gift account”, with no expiry date. (Online e-savings accounts are good for this sort of thing.) Then I would stop stressing and spend it when the right moment comes along.

I tend to “convert” gifts cards this way whenever possible, unless I can actually think of the right thing to buy directly. If the person saves me $x on groceries (or whatever) then I figure they have freed that same amount from my usual household budget, so it works.

Especially important to get it right for a final gift.

I just realised magpie said the same thing.

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