Looking back at my 8th grade graduation, I didn’t think twice when my grandmother asked me what I wanted as a graduation gift. “A Fender Champion amp,” I said. It was a great little amp – not too expensive, probably 200 bucks, and solid performance.
I remembered that look on my mother’s face when I put my phone down. “Grandma’s on a fixed income,” she said. “Please think about that the next time she brings up gifts.” I could tell she was trying to figure out a way to point her towards something that was more of a token and not a big-ticket item.
When I opened my gift on graduation day, I had a tinge of guilt. Did this amp mean less food on the table or a skipped cable bill? But Grandma was glowing. She was so happy to give me something I loved, despite how it might affect her. Three years later, I consider myself much more thoughtful and a lot wiser.
These days, when my grandmother asks me what I want for Christmas, birthdays, Easter, report card day…there’s always a reason for her to give me a gift, I generally tell her just 20 bucks towards something I’m saving up for. I keep it simple and inexpensive but understand how important it is to her to do something for me and I need to give her that. So I think about it and sometimes talk to my mom. Living just on social security must be difficult, but it’s hard to relate when you’re 16.
I consider myself lucky, although our family hasn’t been without its bumps in the road. Living in the Bay Area is quite a challenge, although I don’t know all the specifics about what it takes to live here. I know the median income in San Francisco is $96k and I know, generally, what things cost.
My father is a small business owner, and as far as I could tell, we’ve never struggled financially, until now. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a huge loss in business and it is not so easy to afford the activities and other things that I enjoyed before. I never thought twice about the $21,000 my parents pay for tuition. Now I realize that it is hard for them, especially since many of my Dad’s clients are closing their businesses.
During this time, I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and feel I have not thanked my parents enough for all the things they do for me. I have sometimes taken the things they give or pay for me for granted. The best that I can do is continuously express my gratitude and try to give of myself, even something as simple as holding the door open for someone.