…..And then…..But then

My little guy Cooter is sick.

He started running fever yesterday afternoon and woke up with the same temperature this morning.  I’m impressed that he’s fighting this on his own–I have yet to give him any medicine and it’s staying steady below 102.  I’m also *ahem* impressed that it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all.  So I’m thinking this is not the “three-letter word” stuff.  Last week that had his sister down for the count and not moving off the couch for two days.  So tonight I’m thankful it’s not worse…..

Cooter woke up this morning and immediately started talking.  I wasn’t quite as alert and ready to converse as he was, but I’m not sure he noticed.  He piled up on my bed and started telling me a story–or was it a dream, sorry I’m telling you I was not fully awake yet–about Star Wars characters, a battle, and some cheese.

I think.

The story moved pretty quickly from one thing to another.  The relaying of it included a lot of excited “…..and then…..and then…..but then…..”

All one run-on sentence adventure.  It was precious.

I was thinking about those words today as I prepared for the magic and beauty of tonight and tomorrow.

and then

but then

We have spent the entire month working our way to Bethlehem.

To the manger.

To the baby who was born to be King.

We read each day from a book about a little bear’s journey, following the star, and this morning he finished his journey and made it to the little baby tucked away in a stable, “no crib for a bed.”

So much preparation.  So much excitement.  So many good things–kindness, listening to others, caring, loving, sharing, giving.

All the way up to the day many of us will celebrate on December 25.

All that kindness, magic, goodness, caring, giving–

and then…..

but then…..

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Tomorrow morning when we get up the first thing that will happen before presents or anything is Cooter will take Baby Jesus out of his pocket on the Advent calendar and place him in his manger, just as has happened each Christmas morning for the past 18 or so years.  We will have made it–the journey to the manger.  Following the Light.

And then?

All of our stories, if we sat and told them as Cooter did this morning, would be filled with lots of “and thens” and “but thens.”   And now that we have seen the best of human nature in others AND in ourselves during this time of waiting and preparing, the question begs to be asked–

And then?

Will we let it all go, this need to share with those who are in need?  This reaching out to other people with kind words, smiles, waves, hellos?  Will we stop digging for quarters in our pockets and looking for the red buckets?

See, people are in need all year long.

In need of quarters, clothes, food, shelter, safety, love

kind words

hugs

someone to believe in them…..

Now that we know, that we’ve had a taste of what that looks like, after we get up in the morning and spend time with those we love,

what comes next?

What will your story be?  How will it continue from here?

 

Merry Christmas!

and then…..

every. single. day.

all those good people

scurrying back and forth

carrying lists

lists of groceries for the food they’ll prepare

for their many,

lists of presents for the friends and family afar,

lists of gifts for the children,

lists of things to do during the hustle and bustle

of the holidays

 

and on that list

for many

“serve a meal

to those in need”

 

oh bless them

it’s a beautiful thing,

it really is,

to want to help those in need–

many come and ask,

do you know?

how?  where?  when?

 

and I do

but I don’t think they want to hear

if you only have one day, one hour a year

please just don’t

 

don’t serve a meal and never come back

don’t hand out groceries and go home

and forget

don’t stand out in the cold,

pouring hot chocolate into cups

that are sipped slowly,

for the warmth on the hands

is more needed than the drink,

don’t hand them a cup

and then go home and climb into bed and never

think of them again

 

for these folks who are just

a check mark

on a list

they live this life everyday

they sleep in the cold and the heat

they fight frostbite and mosquito bites

they can’t get a job to buy a car

because they don’t have a car,

they can’t go to job interviews

because they don’t have the clothes to wear,

a never-ending cycle of loss and need

 

folks need your help and love and offers

of kindness

not just on the fourth Thursday or the

twenty-fifth

or on the day of rest

but every. single. day.

 

and they need what they need–

food, shelter, clothes, homes–

but what they need most of all

is someone

someone

you

me

us

to sit with them

walk with them

listen to them

every. single. day

 

offer not what you think they need

one day or two

to fill you with holiday spirit…..

instead ask their story

and listen

and the pain and sadness in the brokenness

of the story

and the laughter and the joy

is not so different from yours and mine

it only lacks a caring listener

not just once

but every. single.  day.

 

go

be

that

one

for

another

 

 

 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“I Think Jesus Loves a Good Hootenanny”

“Why I Don’t Volunteer with Homeless People” 

Making the Season Last…..

Yesterday evening one of my friends mentioned to me that she had seen some Cherry Cordial ice cream somewhere.  She mentioned this because she knows how much I love those things–they make me think of my Daddy.  We always wrapped up a box for him and put them under the tree.

As we were talking about how good we knew it would be and wondering where she saw them, I said, almost forlornly, “They’re probably for the holiday season only.”

We both sighed.  She said, “Yeah.  Probably so.”

Isn’t that the saddest thing?  All the good things that will be over on December 26th?

I spend a lot of time and energy on Christmas, working up to the day, as I’m sure many people do.  I really wish more people celebrated the Christmas “season”–from Christmas Day until Epiphany on January 6th.  Christmas movies–when I would actually have time to watch them, Christmas music to listen to and lift the spirits, and best of all–the spirit of folks around us–the giving spirit would carry on beyond December 25th.

I had an amazing retail experience yesterday.  I was shopping for a young man I’ve never met.  I have never shopped for a male that age before and I was clueless.  I only knew the brand of clothes he would like–nothing about styles.  I headed out, a little nervous and a whole lot lost.  When I got to the store, I guess I looked as lost as I felt, because the young sales associate asked me if I needed any help.

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, Yes please, if you don’t mind.

I explained what I was doing, how I didn’t have a clue what to get, and that I needed the best prices because I wanted to get him more than one outfit.  She nodded and led me around the store sharing with me the newly marked down prices on shirts, pants, hoodies, and so on.

For the love.  Bless her.

I probably seemed ancient to her, and yet she was patient and kind and made me feel like I could do this.

And so I did.

As I was checking out, another sales associate and I chatted about the holidays.  I told her how much I appreciated the help I’d gotten because I really wanted to do this right.  She asked me a couple of questions and started clicking on her computer.  She then gave me not one but two different discounts.  She wanted to be a part of helping this young man as well.  Bless her too.  I started crying.  I couldn’t help it.  I’m tired, it’s been a hard week, (and a hard decade for that matter), and I had no clue what I was doing.  And here she was, reaching out to help, and making a difference.  She stopped, and said, “Don’t cry.  It’s okay.”  And I think I blubbered something about how I could get him some shoes now.  I don’t know, I was so blown away by her kindness.  I gave her a heartfelt Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas and left the store, wishing I could have found better words to tell her how much her actions meant to me.

Because you know.  She so could have listened to me rambling and just nodded and done her job, and she would have been well within her rights to do just that.  I expected no different.  But no.  She stepped outside her “have to’s” and did what she could.  I love that.  I want to be just like her.

I was thinking about her and the limited seasonal ice cream and other things that are usually just a part of the holiday season–many of them my favorite things–white twinkly lights (no LED’s please, don’t get me started), Christmas music, excitement and anticipation in my children’s eyes and hearts, friendly greetings, and folks reaching out with a hand to help.

Occasionally we see these things after January 1, but it is something of an anomaly when we do–it’s almost like we don’t trust it, isn’t it?  I mean, what would you do if you found a container of “Santa’s Christmas” ice cream (I think that’s the name of it–it’s a delicious coffee flavor?) in the grocery store in May?  Would you trust the flavor, that it’s okay?  If someone tried to do something kind for you, and they couldn’t shrug it off with “hey, it’s Christmas” because it’s April?  I know it can happen, it just seems like on December 26th a lot of folks are ready to move on, pack up the tree and decorations and shut down the music and movies and get on to the next thing.

I’m happy for them, I really am.  But that’s not me.  I am thankful that I found a radio station that will play Christmas music straight through to New Year’s Eve.  And I just checked and it looks like Hallmark Channel will be showing Christmas movies through until then too.  It’s a start.  I just love the magic of the season, and I guess my heart wonders, just as Miss N of our Sister Circle asked, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?”  

Years ago I told myself I would give me the gift of the week after Christmas.  I would savor the season the whole week long.  Relax and remember.  Celebrate.  I recall a lady I once knew who gave a “Breaking Down Christmas” party every year, just a few days after Christmas.  It was not a New Year’s Eve party, it was a Christmas party.  Only it was AFTER the rush and bustle of Christmas Day, and it was awesome.  Everyone was relaxed and had a wonderful time.

I know some folks might argue that these things would lose their “specialness” if available year-round, but I don’t know.  So if you hear me humming a Christmas tune or see me digging in the freezer at the grocery store in search of Santa’s Christmas or Cherry Cordial ice cream or hear that I’m watching “White Christmas” in February, just chalk it up to whimsy and my quirky ways.   It’s just me, trying to hang on to the magic, and trying to make it last for more than just one day…..

because magic and love and kindness really never go out of season, do they?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today I’ve had Keeping Christmas by Henry Van Dyke on my mind and heart….. it’s really special.  Very short, but so full of wisdom and beauty.  You can read it here.   Merry Memory-Making!