My parents live in California, where I was born and raised. They come to Texas for frequent visits, however, and on one recent visit my dad gave me a savings bond that my Great Grandmother Monninger had given to me when I was little. He’d filed it away for safekeeping alongside other documents and as the years — then the decades — slid past had forgotten about it. When he came across it a few months ago, he brought it to Texas in his suitcase for me.
Receiving it was like receiving a surprise gift from the past.
Great Grandma’s full name was Maude Ethel Houser Monninger. She was born in 1888 and died in 1979, at the age of 91. Like many people of her generation, she looks stern in photos. In actuality, she was a very sweet, affectionate lady. I can remember the ‘squeaky’, smoochy kisses she’d give us whenever we saw her.
On the red envelope that enclosed the savings bond she’d written…
She purchased the bond in November of 1974, the month I turned three.
She would have paid $15 for the bond. Over time, the bond would mature to be worth $25, then more than that, the longer it was held. I checked, and if you adjust $15 in 1974 money for inflation, it’s equivalent to about $77 in 2016 money. A nice gift for a three year old! I love that she was thinking about my future and wanted to invest her gift in a sensible way.
Well, Great Grandma’s little great granddaughter is now forty-four. And I was delighted to receive her present. I’ll keep the envelope forever because it has her handwriting on it. The bond, I took to my local Bank of America. When I handed it to the teller I was somewhat expecting her jaw to drop and for her to say, “What? This is from 1974! Too awesome!” But she didn’t bat an eye. She processed it in a very professional manner and let me know that Great Grandma’s bond was now worth $131.26.
I deposited it into the account I use to pay my writing expenses because I thought Grandma Monninger might be pleased to know that her gift was being used to help support her great granddaughter’s ministry and dream.
I’m fortunate, because I can remember three of my great grandparents. And I had all four of my grandparents in my life until my mid-twenties.
My mom’s mom often hosted tea parties for us at her house. She had a collection of tiny demitasse cups that she always poured our tea into. Many years after her death, my mom passed this one along to me.
Here’s a picture of my own daughter drinking tea out of it just last week. I even flavored it the way grandma used to, with plenty of milk and sugar. And I served one of the things she used to serve, apple slices garnished with sugar and cinnamon. Still yummy!
When I turned sixteen, my dad’s mom gave me her mother’s wedding band. She told me that she’d received it when her mother passed away because she was the oldest daughter. And she wanted me to have it because I was the oldest granddaughter.
I’ve cherished it! I had it inscribed with my great grandparents’ names and the date of their 1919 wedding. They were married for 67 years!
When His Highness and I were talking about engagement ring styles, I made sure I selected one that would complement the band I already had and wanted to wear and use.
All of this has got me thinking.
It’s lovely to receive a surprise gift from the past. It’s lovely to receive things that people leave you in their wills. It’s lovely to receive things that inheritors give you because they know how much you’ll appreciate them (like the tea cup).
Maybe it’s loveliest of all to receive gifts from the person themselves, the way that I received the ring from my grandmother. By rights, my grandmother could have kept her mother’s ring all her life. Instead, she gave it to a sixteen year old girl. And twenty-eight years later, long after my grandmother’s death, I still remember where we were when she gave it to me. And what she said. And how it made me feel.