Why You Should Make Presents for Your Kids

7 years ago

Pa made a wheat wall hanging when my grandfather was still alive. Grandpa was a talented metal sculptor. His creations decorate my hometown public library, our church, and all of my relative's houses. I don't have any large pieces, at least not until now. Grandpa made me metal copy of my tattoo as a joke, for instance, that hangs in my guest room. (He had a good sense of humor.) I have a rose and a kite boy and a daisy, mostly procured after his death.





I love them because he made them, but they don't really reflect his talent.

Grandpa's magnum opus

Despite my admiration for the complexity of his larger works, my favorite gift from Grandpa was very simple bookends. He took my horse's old shoes and made me two sets.


I loved that horse. Grandpa was nice to him even after he kicked the dog. I can't remember if it was this horse that actually kicked Grandpa's dog's eyeball out of his head, but I fear it was. Grandpa said the dog should've moved.


This is the best part. His handwriting, captured in metal forever. I was in fifth grade in 1985. Can that even be possible?

Pa made the wheat wall hanging with Grandpa, so the story goes. A few years ago, he made my sister a wooden box for her chess pieces then asked what I would like him to make for me. I asked for wheat like the wall hanging he had.

As he's gotten older, I've grown increasingly worried he won't get around to it before there's no more time. He's a healthy man -- I'm not trying to off my father before his time -- but my grandpa died suddenly in a car accident when he, too, was very healthy. The bookends my grandfather gave me have been such a comfort through the years, just to know that someone loved me enough to etch my name in metal.

There is something about what you make for your family.

And so, Ma and Pa brought me the original this December. Pa removed a few of the wheat stalks so he could use them to make new ones for them and for my sister, too.


You can see where a few of the stalks are missing. I think it's a very cool idea to take some of the original to start the new one.


Wheat stalk detail

My husband painstakingly measured the wall where we would hang it, and you would think we were holding a premature baby the way we coaxed it up onto the wall to keep from bending any of the stalks. Seeing how carefully my husband handled the gift from my father made my heart swell with love for both of them.


The swirl of color in copper has always reminded me of home.


I've been sort of an emotional basketcase this week with the upcoming holiday and being really sick with a bad cold. But I swear I can actually feel my mom and dad when I look at this. It hung in my parent's house during my entire childhood.

And so, I leave with this: Whether or not you have a special talent, don't wait to make something for your children. You don't realize how much something you create yourself will mean to them. It doesn't have to be amazing. A photo book. A handwritten note. A collage. Our kids make so many things for us, and they mean so much, but how much do we make for them?

Thank you, Ma and Pa, for letting me have this family heirloom while you are still alive and you can see how much it means to me. Having you physically give it to me is so much better than receiving it someday after something bad has happened. There is no sadness attached to it now, only love.

It will hang in my house during my daughter's childhood, and someday, I will give it to her and she will have something made by her grandpa.

Cross-posted from


Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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