05/12/2013 10:53 am ET Updated Jul 12, 2013

What Are Some Really Good Mother's Day Gift Ideas?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Nan Waldman, Parent x2

I had the best Mother's Day EVER in 2011. The day was particularly special because, in addition to regular and wonderful gifts which were purchased for me by my family and friend with my needs and tastes in mind, they all spent the whole day with me. I am the mother of two twentysomethings (and I 'Mom' their friends who need and respond to 'Momming' too, and house one of them, and feed them all when I manage to cook a homemade meal or bake banana bread, so there are usually at least three twentysomethings in my home, with others visiting daily).

We walked around, mingled with crowds in Santa Monica's outdoor malls, and enjoyed the day. At night, we went out to eat in a local Greek restaurant. It's not even what we did that was so special. It was the fact that everybody was consciously thinking of their mother (me!) with love -- and showed it. Normally I don't like the commercialism of Hallmark Holidays. But this Mother's Day was very different.

They showed their love by doing many little things unexpectedly. For example, I put a glass of water down on the counter, moved to the couch, and forgot my water. Before I could get up, one of them had brought it over to me (a nice, thoughtful, and caring gesture, no?!).

Another example: I was unable to walk more because I am often in pain with a disability -- and they helped me to find a seat. They helped one another and they helped me all day long. They worked together harmoniously. They were charming, fun, intelligent, and kind. The dishwasher was emptied without me saying a thing. I feel very lucky that they are in my life, and I am grateful to be alive to cherish them, even now. People say they love babies, but I have to say that every minute with each member of my family is one I deeply appreciate. I love each more now than when they were babies. We have all had frightening medical incursions into our lives and cherish every happy moment as a result. We have a basis for comparison. This Mother's Day, we all have our health.

Gifts this Mother's Day were great because they were exactly what I didn't have and they saw a need and tried to fill it -- which is so considerate and thoughtful it put tears in my eyes: a purse that is exactly the same shape as the sport luggage I carry around, but prettier, so I can wear it with professional type clothing (it's my job...); a nightgown because my favorite is getting old; and a MacBook Air because my only computer is a jerry-rigged, ancient, and slower-than-cold-molasses desktop from the early 1990's, and I can't carry a heavier laptop to meet with parents due to weight considerations. The laptop was configured, ordered, and chosen by one of my kids, but either could have done it. They will also be teaching me to use it, as I haven't been on a Mac since the SE, back when they were babies.

So the best thing to do for a Mother's Day gift is to pay a lot of attention to your mother, value her, and find out by listening what it is she needs. Try and provide as much of it as you comfortably can.

I know I gave my family the best that was in me to give while we were all young. It is a relief to know that now, when I can no longer take care of them, that they are thinking of and creating new ways to help me in my life. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for their hearts, and their problem-solving skills.

They also made their own Mother's Day card and told me they love me because I have so much grace.

That clinched the deal, whether it is always true -- or not (but I hope it is!).

Here's a 2012 Mother's Day update/edit: a week before Mother's Day, my family surprised me with an unexpected visit from one, who flew in from other parts in a friend's plane, spent a full day including a nice brunch -- and we spent the evening with the rest of my little family talking into the wee hours of the morning about Life; and then the next afternoon I watched as a plane landed with two friends already inside. They touched down to pick up my family member, then flew back to home and work elsewhere.

The door closed, engines fired. I watched as the plane and its engine roar turned into a tiny silent speck, quickly disappearing into the low cloudbank. I stood on the tarmac, waved, and watched this 4 seater plane that looked like a toy. It vanished into thin air!

Upon arrival and subsequent phone call assuring me of a safe landing, I felt much better. Mother that I am, I had asked if the plane had flotation devices and parachutes (answer: no).

A week later (today) was a smaller, cozier Mother's Day -- out to a flea market, which was fun and unexpected. I love time together with the now grown children. Family ... warms my heart. I was glad this Mother's Day was not about things, but about the loves of my life.

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