Indian Life Newspaper -

Crying Wind

The Best Worst Gift


Last updated 2/2/2021 at 3:02pm

When children are small, it is easy to make them happy. They are thrilled with every gift. A teddy bear, toy cars, a doll, candy and small toys in a stocking, they love everything. They are excited, happy and grateful.

As we get older we expect more. Sometimes we expect too much, and instead of being happy with our gifts, sometimes we are disappointed. We preferred more, or better, or something different, and the gift we received wasn't what we wanted.

Years ago an old woman in my church gave me a sweater she'd knitted for me. It was horrible. It was the ugliest sweater I'd ever seen. It was a dozen different colors because she'd used scraps of yarn, and it was three times too big for me, and one sleeve was longer than the other. There were several holes where she'd dropped stitches. She told me she'd only recently taken up knitting and she was really enjoying it.

I thanked Molly for the sweater and told her I'd wear it often.

I lied. I didn't like the sweater. After all, it was too large, an ugly miss-match of colors, had holes, and one sleeve was longer than the other. I never wanted to wear it. I wanted to throw it into the trash.

But of course, I couldn't do that. I liked Molly. She was old; she'd meant well. She'd spent hours and hours knitting that sweater. Molly was a sweet, kind lady-always smiling even though she'd recently lost her husband of fifty-seven years. I knew sooner or later I'd have to wear that sweater to church so she could see me wearing it. I would be embarrassed, and people might laugh at me.

I stretched out the sweater on my bed. It was still hideous. I counted thirteen different kinds and colors of yarn, probably left over from her other projects.

Then, as I looked closer, I saw there were thousands of stitches. Molly might have spent a hundred hours knitting this sweater. She was old, maybe she had arthritis, maybe her hands were aching while she knitted. She must have been frustrated when she dropped stitches but didn't know how to undo the mistakes so just kept knitting.

Maybe Molly had spent countless hours knitting this sweater. It wasn't pretty-it would never be pretty. Other friends would give me a book or gloves or a necklace they'd bought for me. I would probably like their gifts better, but they hadn't spent hundreds of hours making something for me. Sometimes people give me gift cards. I use them, and I appreciate buying things with them, but I'm also aware that my friends have gone to a lesser amount of effort to give them. They've gone to a store, grabbed a bunch of gift cards and enclosed them in cards.

Now the responsibility of shopping and finding a gift for myself has fallen onto me. I don't like shopping and haven't been to a mall in six years, so I usually send the gift cards to my daughter who shops like she's training for an Olympic event.

I gathered up my courage and wore the sweater to church. I rolled up the sleeves so they appeared to be the same length but the sweater was still too large and too bright. I would wear it once or twice so Molly could see it. Then I'd hang it in the back of the closet.

Except I didn't.

The sweater was warm and comfortable, and I was starting to like the red, orange, green, blue, black, yellow and brown colors. It became my favorite sweater, and I wore it often, partly because of the colors and mostly because Molly had spent hours knitting it.

When Molly would see me at church wearing the sweater she'd give me a big hug and a smile.

No one else in the world had a sweater like mine; it was one of a kind.

My worst gift had become my favorite gift. I don't remember what gifts I got from other friends that year, but Molly's gift was definitely unforgettable. Just like Molly.

Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins.


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