We inherit many gifts of those from which we come, but the greatest gift my grandmother gave, she let us earn.
On my 8th birthday I was given a present that has shaped my life and driven my success. I was hired by my grandmother. For four years I watched my brother return from her events exhausted, but paid, and it was finally my turn.
As an upcoming third grader I was given the job of unloading the van during the day, loading it at night and bussing the tables in between. My grandmother gave us jobs based on our age, so they were based on our experience. I didn’t just walk in and start carving the meat, it took years to reach that level. My oldest cousin was the only one at the time who had reached such heights, we were given something to aspire too.
We would work for hours setting up, serving, and breaking down the events. We would get dirty from the clean up and tired from the effort, but no one complained. We worked to meet the standards we knew our grandmother held for us and for her company. She pushed us to be our best simply by believing we would and giving our young effort real value.
As your job was decided by your age, so was your paycheck. With every birthday you earned five more dollars at each event and though we didn’t recognize it, you worked that much harder.
During the week and the weekend there were many events my grandmother catered, and I was not selected to work them all. She would choose who would come to each event and staff them according to their size. If chosen you joined her team of cooks and servers for the night. Since work was not a given, we often were asking my grandmother when we could work again.
My grandmother was an exceptional woman, I’m proud to be her grandson, but even more, I’m proud of the lessons she was willing to teach me. She took a chance on each of us to represent her company night after night. She showed us love through her confidence in us, and provided the chance for us to discover we had value in the world.
As adults we tell children all the time that they can be anything they put their mind to; that even if they never thought it possible, it can be a reality.
My grandmother gave us a gift that ran deeper. She showed us how we reach what may seem impossible, not through hopes and dreams, but through work and time. If you put in the effort needed and the time required you can do anything in this world. I know that my grandmother believed that for each of her grandchildren; she would believe it of her great-grandchildren and all children.
We earn what is truly in important in life; it can never be given.
In 3rd grade I earned my gift, wearing a cummerbund, with a tray in my hand, and a smile on my face.