The Gifts that Mattered

Though Mother’s Day 2013 may be a wrap, it’s not too late to gift your maternal unit with a copy of What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty One Women On The Gifts That Mattered Most (Algonquin). This rich collection of essays (as studded with delectable morsels as my own mother’s walnut-raisin-cinnamon- sugar-dusted-cookies) offers a preponderance of Jewish women ruminating on gifts both tangible and not:  

She saw me hesitating over a very expensive lace Mexican blouse, picking it up, putting it down, walking away, coming back. It cost what seemed like the earth to me—maybe fifty dollars.  “Do you like it darling?” my mother asked. “It’s gorgeous,” I said…“But it’s so expensive.”   “You should always get the things you really want,” she said, and she picked it up, marched to the cash register, and bought it. 

–Katha Pollit, The Unicorn Princess

In the midst of all the joy were the flowers Mom bought me. They’d made the service feel transcendent. They’d made the lunch exuberant and elegant at the same time. She gave me more in those gusts of color and vegetation than I could have even imagined…Thank you for the roses, Mommy.

–Abigail Pogrebin, Never Too Late

…then came the plant she gave me when my first son was being born…I took out the worst of my postpartum derangement syndrome on that poor plant…Eight and a half years later, the plant still blooms in an upstairs dormer window…Even with its perilous beginnings, that plant is the most precious thing my mother has ever given me. Most of what I know about parenting and patience I’ve learned by watching it.

–Dahlia Lithwick, The Plant Whisperer

I still have my mother’s jade necklace, and I every time I touch it and every time I put it on, I think of her and I still miss her. I don’t think missing a mother ever stops. I have decided to be buried with it.

–Marge Piercy, Betrayal

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