I received the best gift this week. Several months ago, I was talking with my grandmother about how my husband and I don’t really have or take photos because we don’t have a digital camera, and we always forget to develop film. I would also really like to take digital pictures for this blog, because I think it’s so much better than pulling other people’s creativity off flickr. My grandma told me since she had just bought a new one, she had an old digital camera I could have if I wanted. Being in the middle of a crazy out of state move, I completely forgot about her offer.
A few weeks ago, I e-mailed her saying how much I appreciated her offer, and that I would love to have it if she hadn’t offered it to anyone else. My wonderful grandma put her old camera in the mail.
Winding back nearly 15 years (ugh), I was a photography student in high school. I love camera work and I still have a great old school single lens reflex that was given to me by my uncle (who is truly one of the most generous men I know). I still use this camera, but since I don’t develop my own film or prints anymore, it has become more of a greatly treasured relic. I have never owned a digital camera before; when digital first came out, it was crappy, and I could take infinitely better pictures with my professional setup. My grandma remembered this.
Fast forward to Thursday. I went to pick up the camera that came in the mail, but something wasn’t right; the package read eight pounds! Unbeknownst to me, my grandmother had two old digital cameras. I opened the box to find a Nikon Coolpix 8700 8MP digital camera with filters, optics, and every bell and whistle I could hope for. I called my grandmother in utter disbelief, thinking she sent the wrong camera.
I told her how amazing it was, that it was an incredible gift, and if she ever wanted it back she could have it in the same condition it is in right now. I told her I had no idea she would send me this nice of a camera.
She said, “I wasn’t going to send you the piece of sh** camera. You like photography, and you will take beautiful pictures with it, instead of it just sitting here.”
“Yes, I will, but you know I would’ve been happy with the piece of sh** camera, right?”
“I know, sweetie.”
The best gift I received wasn’t the camera; it was the trust and, maybe even respect, of my grandma. Over the years I’ve left behind my reputation as someone frivolous and unthankful, and earned the acknowledgement of my friends and family as someone who takes care of my things, and is deeply appreciative for my blessings.
Some of my family even laughed at me because it took me over three years to send out our wedding “thank yous.” Between three out of state moves, and a major car accident, I actually wrote them three times, but they kept getting lost, or postage kept going up. I kept a note from Miss Manners during that time, where a gentle reader had asked Miss Manners when it was too late to send a thank you. The reply was something to the effect of, when the person has passed away, and you have to live with the guilt of your ingratitude. I was so proud when all of those were sent out.
Gratitude and appreciation is one of the many things that separates frugal from cheap. I can never repay the generosity I’ve experienced in my life, but I can say thank you, and remember, and pay it forward when I can. In fact, although I called her, I think I’ll go write a thank you note right now.