Stashed at Mary’s

  Mothers of the young are not the only moms who could use a little time with other moms. Here’s a sweet memory from one of our writers, Lucinda Sutherland:

  One year, while we were in the middle of moving from one Idaho town to another, we found a really good sale on the Tonka toys we wanted to get our kids for Christmas. So we bought the toys. But then we discovered we had a problem – where do you hide toys, bulky toys, while you are in the middle of moving? You can’t hide them in the house you are leaving because the kids are only supervised by Grandma while you’re hauling a load to the new house so they could easily search the house for toys while you’re gone. You can’t hide them in the new house because every day or so you take the kids to the new place (so Grandma doesn’t tear her hair out) and the kids go through every room checking to see where everything has been placed in the new rooms!

We had already started attending church in the new town and an older woman quickly heard about our dilemma and offered to stash the toys in her spare bedroom. What a blessing! We finished the moving and the unpacking and stashed a few more gifts in Mary’s spare bedroom. A few days before Christmas I brought wrapping paper, scissors, and tape, then sat at Mary’s kitchen table and wrapped the gifts. While there, Mary and I talked about my four daughters and why they were getting Tonka toys and how they were settling into their new life. We talked about me and what I thought of the new town and how we had learned to adapt to moving so often with the military. Mary also shared about her life and how she had moved from Tennessee to Idaho when she was about the age of my eldest daughter and how life had been for her getting used to a whole new way of life out west.
About September every year after that Mary would ask if I needed to stash gifts and it became our tradition. Somehow I always seemed to choose the same day of the month to do the wrapping and, even though I can’t remember what that date was, it always ended up being that sweet lady’s birthday. Mary had adult children in a nearby town who would come over to help if she had any problems, but they were usually too busy to spend time with her exactly on her birthday so she looked forward to watching me wrap gifts as her birthday celebration each December. Even when my daughters got a little older and we didn’t need to stash gifts I would take some to Mary’s house a few days before Christmas and wrap them there while we visited. Every year I somehow forgot the gift tags and every year Mary had more than she needed and wanted me to use hers.
At first it seemed to me it seemed like it must be an imposition to store things at Mary’s house and take over her table for wrapping gifts. Mary didn’t see it that way. To Mary I was letting her in on our lives and she could imagine what our children would think of each gift. I started taking the children to visit Mary every few months and she got to know them and their personality quirks. Mary would play an old piano in her front room and try to teach the girls a few songs.
When we moved to another town that wasn’t more than 15 miles away we stayed in contact with Mary and a few years later her son contacted us to give that old piano to my daughters. I miss that time wrapping gifts at Mary’s kitchen table but Mary is spending Christmas with Jesus these days.


  It’s beautiful and amazing how we build friendships and networks of care in our lives and communities.

Do you have any similar friendships, or memories of yourself or a friend who had a similar friendship with a mother of a different age group of kids or even grown kids?



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