The Gift

My mom (left) on her 7th birthday.

My mom (left) on her 7th birthday.

My mom recently celebrated a birthday. In her seventies, she is still always stylish, with impeccable hair and makeup, and known for her big, bright, beautiful smile. It’s not easy living so far from family, and I so often wish I could just drive down the road to see my mother, or bring her a bouquet of flowers from my garden. When her birthday rolled around, I couldn’t wait, because I recently found the perfect gift for her…something I have been searching for her for decades.

I look at old pictures of my mom and think she was the cutest little girl ever. Even then, she was always smiling away.  She is a twin, and my grandmother always sewed her girls the cutest outfits. They looked like little dolls! (My grandmother and grandfather were both twins, as well).

Look at that face! My mom is on the right.

Look at that face! My mom is on the right.



My mom and aunt, so adorable. Mom is on the left.

My “Grampa Ray” had his own little sign business. Even after he retired, when I was a little girl, I remember him painting signs in his backyard garage and the beautiful lettering he would do…a lost art today. When my mom was little, he painted signs for Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Wasn't he handsome?

Wasn’t he handsome?

I’ve always loved hearing the stories my mom tells of her childhood. She was raised with her twin and later a baby sister in a modest little house. She had a happy childhood. Sometimes she and her sister would go to the movies. Mostly, she’d play outside with her sister and neighborhood friends, until finally at dark my grandmother would make them come in for the evening. Kids had more freedom back then; they didn’t have as many worries as we did, and life was simpler. They did not have much at times, but my mom says “what we did have was precious”.

When my mom was nine years old, the buzz in Houston, Texas was the opening of the first-ever Coca Cola bottling plant on Bissonnet. (Back then, Houston had only 500,000 citizens). It was quite the event! The public was invited to attend the grand opening and tour the new plant, but to go on the tour you had to have a ticket. My mom and her family got their tickets for the grand opening. Once inside, they were told to hold onto their ticket stubs for possible door prizes. My mom’s ticket was called! She won! She was presented with a Coca Cola music box. It was the first thing she ever remembered winning, and that little music box meant so much to her; it represented a very happy family memory, with her mom, dad, and sister on a special outing.


My mom cherished that little music box. She had it a long time, until when she was a teen, it was accidentally thrown out.

I love this photo of my parents at prom, The Houston Club, 1959

I love this photo of my parents at prom, The Houston Club, 1959

My mom never forgot that exciting moment as a child when her number was called, with the thrill of winning something special, nor did she forget her little music box. She’s always spoken wistfully about it.

For over twenty years, I’ve wanted to find my mom that music box, always keeping an eye out at tag sales, flea markets, and antique stores. Once, in the 90’s, I thought I found it! It was a reproduction, a music box that looked like an old coca cola machine with the little glass bottles. Though my mother loved it, it wasn’t like the one she had as a child.

When eBay was invented, I would search again from time to time. Nothing ever popped up that matched my mom’s music box…until recently. All of sudden, there was one that I thought just might be it.

Not wanting to get too excited, I texted a photo of the auction to my mom. She called me, her voice quivering. It was exactly like the music box she won as a child! She wanted to know how to purchase it. I told her sadly that it was already “sold”. (I just didn’t tell her that it was me who was bidding)!  I bought it, with my brother chipping in; I thought it would be extra-special coming from both of us.  He remembers her always talking about it, too.


When it arrived, I couldn’t resist checking it out. It was tiny, but adorable, and in playing condition. I carefully packed it up and mailed it out the week of my mom’s birthday.

My Mom.

My Mom.


I wished I could have seen her face when she opened it! My mom was an amazing stay-at-home mother and later a strong single mom, and taught me how to do many things. She gave me a happy childhood; I wanted to give her back a happy piece of hers.

Have you ever found something from your past (or for someone else), many years later? What was it? Share with me in comments!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole




  1. Dori Troutman says:


    I had 2 minutes to read this post before heading out the door… and instead I’ve taken 15 minutes to carefully read every word. And cry. And I decided I am not getting up from my desk chair until I’ve written to tell you how precious this is. I’m sure your mother loved this gift beyond measure, but this blog post will be a treasure to her as well.

    She was such a darling little girl wasn’t she? (And a beautiful woman today.) Do you have any more twins in your family? I know you didn’t have twins, but did your brother? I know someone who is a triplet and she had a mother that was a twin as well as grandparents too… so it made me wonder how many more are in your family?

    I just adore this blog post so much, I can’t even explain it! It makes me want to be a better gift giver.

    Thanks Nicole!

    – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl – 🙂

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori!
      Thank you for such a sweet, heartfelt comment! I just spoke with my mom, and yes, she loves this post and printed out a hard copy. I was never so excited for a box to come in the mail. I even messaged the seller to thank them and give them a bit of background on why I bought it.

      Twins does run in our family, but neither my brother nor I had twins (I think of twins as ‘winning the baby lottery’). I wonder if someday my daughter will have twins? When my mom was born, the newspaper ran the story because they were twins born to twin parents. 🙂

      Thanks again for making my day with this comment.

      Farmgirl Hugs,

  2. deb says:

    What a perfect gift – and she is beautiful!

  3. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Thank you, Nicole, for writing this. I just love the little Coca Cola music box from you and Russell. It has made me so happy and brought back so many memories. I miss you everyday, my beautiful daughter. I love you.

  4. susana says:

    Yes, my husband thought I had accidenly tossed his bible in the recycling bin several months Go.because he had a habit of putting it in a walmart garbage bag with his newspaper he bought every sunday after church. I was sure I had tossed in the paper bin. In THE meatime. He died not knowing he had brought it in the house. Two days ago, looking for my quilts, uncovered a Wal-Mart bzg….and gurss what was in the bag? His bible! It was like I found…..a treasure! I was so overjoyed. Be cause…I found his tgouhts in the margins and he u derlibed what he read. I never knew he even read souch of the bible. But it helped me find some peace. ..knowing he did read it.I just wish we had found it sooner. Because he suffered so. Much the last two months of his life. Praying my prayers and word’s were so comforting.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Dear Susana,
      I am so glad you found your husband’s Bible. How special with all of his notes and underlining in it. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • susana says:

        Yes.its a joy as each page I read….I see a glimpse of his thoughts and thst he eve. WS artisti. And I didnt know that about him.I. hope to incorporate some of his art in quilt.

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    What a sweet story and a sweet gift for your mom! Love it!
    My mom has been gone for 21 years and I miss her so much!
    Enjoy the moments!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi CJ, thank you. I love seeing the pictures you post of you and your daughter. So sweet. You and Robin seem very close. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Denise says:

    Gosh what an amazing story. I love that you love your mom so much you never gave up looking. I’d say that this new box will be so much more to her than her first with the love that it holds as a gift from her dearly loved children.
    I’m on the look out for a record plYer and cuckoo clock from my childhood memories.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! Thank you. I told my mom that the little box might just be THE very same one she had. One could never know, but it’s a fun thought. I keep hoping someday I will find my dollhouse. It was accidentally left (with most of my toys) in the garage of my childhood home when we moved in the late 80’s. My dad had built it for me for Christmas, from scratch. It breaks my heart. I keep hoping it was rescued and someone will eventually put it on eBay! Happy Hunting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • susana says:

        I hope you find your dollhouse. I used to have a lot of treasures my dad gave me… I wish I had a few….he gave me this old horn that once held gunpowder and an Indian princess doll in real leather Indian dress which was beaded. And. A war flag with Japanese writing… those things get stolen that have any value. But you…your treAsures on earth will be left behind after you die and another will take them. Your heart will be where your treasures are!

        • Nicole Christensen says:

          Hi Susana, Sounds like your dad was a neat guy! And of course, the best treasures on Earth are family, friends and the ones we love! 😉 Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Rowena Philbeck says:

    Very cool. I bet she was so surprised and the music box made her day!! Nicely done!!

  8. denise says:

    for me it was a cookie jar, my sister accidentally broke the bottom of it when we were still at home and I have always wanted one for my own memories. My Mom kept the lid which was an animals face. Then I found it on ebay and have been thrilled with it ever since! that is so cool that you found that one for your Mom!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! Oh how exciting! I bet you were just thrilled to find that! I love eBay for that. When my daughter was little, I would find old Golden Books that were out of print but were ones I like had as a child. Found them all on eBay. Awesome that you found your cookie jar. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Rosemarie says:

    Great column! What a sweet birthday present from you and your brother to your mom! I love the pictures of your mom as a young girl and lady, especially the current photograph! She looks great!


    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, Rose! I love those pictures…to me they are precious. I hope I look half as good as my mom does when I am her age! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Cindy says:

    Nicole! Such a beautiful story and very well written with such heartfelt emotional love! You are very blessed to know the history of your family ! I come from a very loving family too! Although I was adopted and very lucky to have been raised with so much love! It’s strange not knowing where you come from . Well anyway ,I’m sure your beautiful Mom was thrilled! I love what you said that your Mom said” we didn’t have much but we cherished what we had” such a simple life in the past! Happy thoughts,Cindy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cindy, Thanks for writing in. I am so glad that you enjoyed my post. I was never more excited to give my mom that little box. It’s only about three inches, but it’s filled with soooo much love. Big farmgirl hugs to you, Nicole

  11. Laura says:

    When I turned 5, my great uncle who worked as Walt Disney’s first casting director, sent me an adorable Pollyanna doll from California. She and I were about the same size and I treasured her. I don’t remember when or why my mother got rid of her. I did see one in an antique store, but she was very expensive and not in very good shape. Hopefully, one day I will find another Pollyanna doll…maybe in time for my first granddaughter!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Laura, what a neat story! I hope you do find your doll. A lot of my toys were left behind when we moved from my childhood home. I had two dolls made for me as a child that I wished I still had. One was made by my aunt, who made me a life-size likeness of ME! I played with her until I no longer played with dolls. She was so detailed, a big, rag doll that wore real human clothes. I named her Rebecca. Another one was a soft Cabbage Patch doll made by my neighbor. My dollhouse my daddy made is the one thing I really miss. Hope you do find a Pollyanna doll someday! Thanks for sharing your memories. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Marilyn Collins says:

    What beautiful pictures to go with a beautiful story. I have an identical twin sister. Marion and I are the best of friends. Having a twin is a guarantee of a best friend for life!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marilyn,

      Thank you, I am so glad you enjoyed the post! Love that you have a twin and call her your best friend. I am sad for my mom that she and her sister live so far away from each other now. I know my mom misses her. Thanks for commenting!

      Farmgirl Hugs,

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