Jewish Stuff Love

A Gift from Grampy

We invited family and traveling guests to our home for brunch before they had to leave town after Tech’s bar mitzvah weekend.

After nearly everyone left, my father handed me a black pouch.

“There’s something in there for Tech,” he said. “It’s important. Don’t lose it.”

I was busy, so I tossed it onto my kitchen desk, uncharacteristically cluttered with all kinds of junk.

Tech found it first.

“What’s this?” he asked, flipping the tiny black velvet pouch back and forth in his hands.

“Oh! That’s for you!” I walked toward him with a bounce in my step. Tech received few gifts, and I had no idea what could be in a little bag from my father. “Open it.”

Inside the pouch, there was a silver piece of jewelry: a pendant featuring a small Star of David and a symbol of the tablets upon which the 10 Commandments were written. I thought about how my father had just told us all that he had never formally chanted from the Torah. I knew his gift was super meaningful, but I didn’t want Tech to feel pressure to wear a piece of jewelry if he didn’t want to.

“You don’t have to wear it,” I said. “You can save it…”

But Tech had already put the silver chain around his neck. He squeezed it in his hand and then let it dangle loose.

“It’s just like Grampy’s,” he said.

I repeated myself. “You don’t have to wear it.”

Tech ignored me.

“I love it, and I’m never taking it off.” Tech hesitated. “Starting after camp. Because at camp, this could get lost. Or broken. Otherwise, I’m totally wearing it.”

He went to look in the mirror.

But he wasn’t looking at himself.

He was looking at the gift his grandfather had given him.

“So cool,” he mumbled.

My father has worn his silver piece of Judaica since he was 13-years old. The pendant is battered, and some of the symbols have fallen off. It is even a little dented.


I know when he wears it, my father feels a connection to G-d. And he remembers his parents who gave him the gift when he turned 13-years old.

When Tech was young, he received a miniature Torah from our temple. Covered in blue velvet, it rests in a white box. My husband and I were asked to write our hopes for our child inside the box flap. I penned a few wishes:

May you continue to grow big and strong.

May you continue to learn and find the things that have meaning to you.

May you always be true to yourself and do the things you know are right – even if they are difficult.

May you continue to love being Jewish and honor all our traditions.

May you love always, and remember to put people before things.

I think he’s got it.

Have you ever received a highly symbolic gift? What was it?

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45 thoughts on “A Gift from Grampy

  1. Renee, i am thoroughly enjoying your pieces about your son’s bar mitzvah and family ties–great stuff! I’ve learned a lot and admire the strong connection to faith you’ve passed on to your son.
    My daughter gave me a sparkly starfish necklace a while back, and as a teacher, I love the symbolism (you know, the “helping even one starfish back into the water” story.) It showed me she understands what’s important to me–helping others.
    Nice pic of your son!

    1. Oh! I love the starfish story! Every teacher needs to know that story! What a wonderful gift to have received from your daughter. She so gets you! 😉

      I only have two more posts about the bar mitzvah and then I’m done. One will be to show some actual photographs, so I’m waiting for the photographer to send the disc! And the other was an interesting etiquette question that cropped up! I’m thinking it’s enough already! 😉

  2. This series is killing me…in a good way. Such love here and such wisdom. You and your family just choke me up.

    I don’t know about a symbolic gift, but a hugely sentimental one? Yes.

    I’ve told Mark that if there was ever a fire in our house, I would grab rescue Matthew, Luke and the portrait my mum painted of Mark, Matthew and I shortly after Matthew was born.

    Mark’s on his own.

    1. Hahahaha! I love paintings. Oh, gosh! I hate that questions because I am not a pack rat, so everything I own is infused with a lot of meaning.

      If my husband has TechSupport, and I just so happen to have the most recent backup of everything on the computer and the flashdriveis in my pocket, then I think I’d grab a fabulous, huge, calendar that Hubby gave to me for an anniversary years back. It is gorgeous, and I just love it. It makes me smile every stinking day. I am obsessed with touching the tiles and moving them around. And, of course, the passage of time. *weep*

  3. My grandmother decided to give each of her granddaughters a piece of her jewelry and the story behind it after my grandfather died. I cherish the note with the story as much as the necklace.

    1. Teri! I love the jewelry and the fact that your grandmother took the time to explain the significance of each piece to you and your family members. So few people actually take the time to write to each other any more. Those notes are super special!

  4. The summer before I turned 40 I was given a celtic necklace from one of the oldest churches in Scotland — it was then stolen in a hotel in Tibet that I was able to get back (that was an interesting story). It carries great significance to me!

    1. Amy: Okay, THAT is an amazing story – and if you haven’t written about it you have to. And if you have, can you share the link? I’d LOVE to read it. I can’t imagine how you ever managed to get a stolen piece of jewelry returned to you. Obviously, that piece is meant to be yours!

  5. This is great! When I “graduated” from kindergarten, my parents gave me a Star of David necklace. It was a small round gold piece that looked like it was surrounded in gold lace. On top was a gold star and a navy blue inside the star. On top of that it said “Zion” in Hebrew. Since I was only six years old, I was only allowed to wear it for “special occasions” which meant it stayed in the box in my parents room until we got dressed up and I was allowed to wear it.

    In high school I asked my parents if I could finally keep it in my room and I started wearing it every day. I wore it everyday through high school, college, working after college and half way through graduate school. Over that 12 plus years, the chain broke several times and each time we fixed it. My dad even sent me a new, stronger chain at one point to make sure it would stay on. However, one day in graduate school in Los Angeles, I looked down and part of the chain was still there but the pendant was gone! I looked everywhere but knew this time it was gone for good.

    A year later, at my graduate school graduation, my parents gave me a new beautiful Star of David necklace, with a note that said….the first one was for your first graduation and this is for your last. It is a beautiful piece and much more appropriate for someone almost 30 years older then the original present. I love the necklace and the sentiment and I wear this one only on “special occasions.” However, whenever I walk into a Judaic store, I still peer into the glass case, to see if I can find a replica of the original….who knows maybe one day I will…

    1. “…the first one was for your first graduation and this is for your last.”

      Beth, I love the sentiment there, but something tells me that you are a lifelong learner so while there may not be other formal diplomas, I imagine there will be many other endings and beginnings for you: that would be my wish for you anyway.

      Also, I hope one day you do stumble into the right Judaic shop and stumble onto someone’s antique jewelry and find your original pendant. Wouldn’t THAT be something. If there are still blogs and Facebook pages then, you’d better find a way to tell me!

  6. Awesome photo and post! Seems we’re on the same wavelength today. 🙂

    Last year my parents shipped a wooden, foldable wall to me. It’s gorgeous—red oak with elephants carved into the design. It wouldn’t be half as lovely in my eyes, though, if I didn’t associate it with my family. My grandparents brought it back from India, and I grew up admiring it in their home.

    1. Oh August! That is amazing! I love that your parents shipped you the wall, connecting you to your grandparents and a home that you loved. Yes, it is amazing to have something awesome that connects us to our history, is it not? Makes me consider what I might want to leave special people I love. I can only hope someone I am close to would understand what I am trying to give them and not think it is a piece of crap and throw it away. 😉

  7. A lovely piece, Renzay. It seems fitting to let my grammar lapse and say: You done good with that kid.

    I can’t think of anything sentimental, but with the money my parents gave us for our wedding, we had a dining room table made. From maple, Canada’s tree. My best memories of my family are these long dinners, filled with noise and laughter. That is what I wanted to create in my new home. Plus, it expands to fit 12, so come and visit!

    1. This is the best use of money: to purchase something that you love and that can be used to make memories. TIP: Don’t ever let William use the iron on it. That would probably be bad. On second thought, eventually even a burn mark would become part of that table’s history and make it even more rich. I don’t think anything could wreck that table, eh?

      And you know I would love to visit. So jealous you were in FL with Tamara! 😉

  8. When my father was dying, I was pregnant with my second child, a boy whom I named after my dad. For my son’s Christening, my dad gave me the Bible that had been given to him when he converted to Catholicism to marry my mother. In it was inscribed a verse to “Charles.” I got to pass it down to my Charles when he made his confirmation a few months ago. He cherishes it as much as I do the memories of my dad.

    1. Ooooh! Lisha, that got me all gooosebumpy. I love that you passed down your father’s Bible to your son on his confirmation day. I hope your Charles “got it” the way Tech seemed to. Those generational gifts are particularly special. Something to treasure, for sure. Even if your son doesn’t look at it every day, it will offer him much in the future, I’m certain. And may your son go from strength to strength.

  9. I co-wrote with someone for years upon years. One day she sent me a compass necklace in the mail. One of her characters gave a similar necklace to one of mine in one of our stories – symbolic a’la “my true north”, the compass would always lead one back to the other should they be lost.

    A decade later, It hangs from my rear view mirror.

  10. Oh, I just love that pic of Tech Support. What a cute kid, on the verge of becoming an adult so soon! What a special gift and wonderful reaction to it! That’ll mean a lot to your Dad.

    I think one of the most special gifts I ever received was a book of contemporary Hmong writings given to me by a dear friend I had just met and started working with through a diversity education group I was in in college. She had shared so many personal stories and aspects from her culture that were heartbreaking and yet, demonstrated immense strength and willpower. Reading this book, hearing stories from her home country, Laos, and how the people felt when they immigrated here, was profoundly moving. I actually cried while I read it. I knew that book was a gift of friendship and respect, and a key to a secret culture she wanted to help me understand. I’m still good friends with her today!

    1. Have you ever read When the Spirit Moves You, You Fall Down? It was one of the most compelling cross-cultural studies I’ve ever read. I love that a friend gave you this special book. I’m sure it is beautiful. Books really can help bridge a gap, can’t they? They really can link us to each other! Thanks for sharing, Jess!

  11. Tech! That picture speaks a thousand words.

    Babs is notorious for kick-tail, sentimental gifts. She is incredibly crafty. For Christmas after we got our first house, she made me a felt advent calendar, just like the one I grew up with. It’s basically a giant piece of red felt you hang on the wall, that has a felt tree sewn on it, and each day leading up to Christmas has a little felt ornament that you can pin on the tree. She sewed every single one, and made ‘custom’ ones for us. Like a picture of Uncle Jesse framed with a little piece of pipe cleaner, and a little ‘house’ (our house) with the year we bought it on the back, etc.

    And this says nothing of the photo albums she’s made for me (for my 30th bday that just passed in April, she had friends and family all write up things about me to include in it! Geesh!)… They’re works of art. Each page takes her days.

      1. Renee! LOL *gasp* Never!

        Although at Peppermeister’s bday party today, I was reminding Babs how she accidentally mislabeled a Christmas gift, meant for my brother but given to me…and of course I ran with it for everything my 7-year-old self was worth.

    1. The whole weekend was a gift. So many special things happened. Unexpected guests — people we thought would never come — ended up asking if they could come at the last minute. Seven layers of delicious.

  12. love it! When I graduated from college with my teaching degree, my dad gave me his McGuffey readers from his childhood. I have looked through them a few times and it reminds me how hard he worked to accomplish all he did in his lifetime. They remind me of him.

    1. I love looking at old books. They are so different from the ones that are out today. Hard to pinpoint why. Is it the faded color of the pages? Is it knowing your father’s hands carried those books? I love that you have continued to hold onto them. Super special. Thanks for sharing, Clay!

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