A blanket on the lawn, the lego and toy box and a picnic brought by their mummy turned out to be a good substitute for grandma's out-of-bounds house (except for the loo!). It wasn't long though before a little five year-old was desperate for the loo and politely asked if she could go inside to use the toilet facilities. When she came back she ran up to me, her little face beaming and exclaimed "Grandma, you've kept the shell I gave you when you came to tea at our house". I answered "Of course I have because it was from you". The tea at her house had been a very special occasion to mark the end of banned contact with both grandparents. The little shell thrust into my hand as we left was instead of her hug and kiss goodbye.
This little episode of her treasured gift to me showed me how much the little expressions of love and appreciation mean to the giver. I was so glad that I had placed it in the centre of a large shell sitting on the ledge by the conservatory door. I receive so many tokens - cards, pictures, stone, leaves, flowers - from my grandchildren that I can't possibly keep them all. My solution has been to keep the current gift on display. The inspiration behind the gift of that little shell was "I love you grandma, and I miss you". It has become a permanent fixture in my conservatory. It will be so easy as lockdown restrictions are lifted to walk away from the expressions of care and love that have meant so much to us.
'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.' Matthew 6:19