My mid teenage years are the reason my parents have gray hair today.
I went through the “usual” period of self discovery, sharp tongue and self “expression”. It was a time of adjustment, finding a way to belong and this often happened at the expense of my parent’s sanity. There was a clash between what my peers did and what was expected of me as a member of the family.
I would leave the house in grunge attire, as was the fashion at the time, and my mother would often offer some of her clothes to spiff me up a bit.
One of the articles often offered to me was a sweater. It was oatmeal colored cardigan with round silver buttons with snowflakes embossed on them. The sweater was adorned with a few apples, ducks, spinning wheels, Amish people and stalks of corn. (It sounds busy but believe it or not it is pretty tasteful looking.) I hated it at the time and would ignore my mom’s requests to put it on, seeing it as “lame” and so “Mom”. I continued to wear my dark clothing for a couple of years.
Later on I ask my Mom to wear it and she said no. Over and over again she said no. I let on like it didn’t bother me, after years of her trying to make me wear it, but I didn’t understand why the offer was now refused. Why couldn’t I wear what I had now labeled, “The Duck Sweater”?
One Christmas we were going light on gifts. Every family has "tight" Christmas seasons and this was ours. Although, looking back on it we were always blessed and my parents so very generous. I opened each gift, thrilled with each one. My Mom handed me a box and I tore through the wrap with excitement that can only be brought on by Christmas morning. As I opened the box and unfolded the tissue paper I found the beloved duck sweater.
It was a gift of understanding, a personal and meaningful gift.
I sit now wearing my duck sweater, many years later, and am grateful. I am grateful for my Mom’s generosity and also for sticking by me during those years where I had been difficult and contrary.
As I put on my sweater, as my son plays with the snowflake buttons, I think of Christmas’ of past and how blessed I have been. I am also grateful to both my parents who never gave in and never up on their little girl.