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When I was a little kid, I hated going to bed. Every night, I would exhaust a young actress’s arsenal of tactics to prolong bedtime. I had pale yellow flannel pajamas with rick-rack trim that my grandmother had made me. I would get out of my bed and wear the pajamas in as many different ways as I could come up with, each time a new voice, each time a new premise. When I had run out of options with the pajamas, I would come out into the living room, wearing nothing but my underwear on my head, saying “I’m a jester, see, LOOK MOM, I’m a JESTER!!!!!”

When I was a kid, I found this hilarious. Now that I’ve worked as both a preschool teacher and a nanny, I cannot imagine how aggravating it was for my mother. But, each night, after she had finally gotten me to put my pajamas back on, she would tuck me in and we would begin another nightly ritual. She would pull up the covers, gently stroke my hair and say:

“I love you as wide as the ocean.”

And I would reply:

“I love you as tall as a giraffe.”

And so we would go on, “As bright as the stars,” “As big as a whale,” “As blue as the sky…” A chorus of “I love yous” that were so calming and beautiful that I had no choice but to fall to sleep feeling extremely loving and loved.

This year, for Christmas, my mother sent me a bag of wrapped packages. All of them had personalized notes from Santa. I saved the biggest present for last. I was a quilted box that my grandmother had made. This is what I found inside:

 

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Merry Christmas to all the mothers and daughters. Whether you get to be together for Christmas or connect instead by Skype or a phone call, I hope this little stuffed giraffe gives you some warm fuzzies. Mothers and daughters of all ages sometimes need to be reminded that they are, indeed, loved as tall as a…

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