I don’t know when it started, but it must have been in kindergarten.
One day Will came home and said he had a gift for me. His pudgy hand unfolded and in his fleshy palm was a green acorn that he had found on the playground. It was such a pretty and almost delicate thing, and the gesture was so sincere and loving that I gushed over that acorn. I put it in a bowl in my cupboard where I keep some wedding china and crystal.
Will started bringing me an acorn almost every day. Some days the acorn would be quarter-size; other times he would find the smallest acorn imaginable. Each time as we walked toward home from the bus stop he would say that he had a gift for me, and it would be an acorn. By the end of the school year I had acquired quite a collection of acorns–each representing a day at school and a child who thought of his mom and who had slipped a small token into his pocket for her.
I have grown love acorns. The tree they grown into is a symbol of strength and endurance. And, there seems to be some significance between those qualities and Will’s daily gift. Maybe it is just that those are the two qualities that will help an individual rise above so much in life. For him it might be peer pressures and making the right choices, it’ll be the end of relationships and the fortitude needed to be a parent. Right now, the acorn seems like such an apt symbol for a boy starting off–venturing just a little way from home.
To be honest, I totally forgot about this annual gift until today. Will and I were walking back from the bus stop and he said, “I have a gift for you.” Even the words didn’t register immediate recognition that the tradition he started two years ago was continuing. But then Will opened his hand and a smooth, green-bottomed acorn–still wearing its weaved-looking cap–emerged.
I immediately thought of the scene from Chris van Allsburg’s picture book, Polar Express, where Santa holds up the bell and announces, “THE FIRST GIFT OF CHRISTMAS!”
This was the first gift of the school year.