The Best Kind of Gifts

This afternoon after going out on a few holiday jaunts, the littles and I came home.  They never made it in the house, as they saw their friends out playing in the neighborhood and took off to join them.

As it was growing darker, I walked down to my neighbor’s house to call the children home.  I saw Cooter and two of his friends working on something inside of the garage.

And Cooter was carrying this.

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Cooter’s buddies know him. His reputation as a stellar Star Wars fan might have gotten out. What a thoughtful and wonderful gift!

Turns out the three boys decided to “build” Christmas gifts for each other.  Two of them would create something for the third, and they all took turns until all three of them had a present.  When I walked up Cooter and J were finishing up a football “helmet” for their buddy A.  To some it might have looked like a box with holes cut out of it, but to those little guys, it looked like a helmet.

To me, it was beautiful.

And so much fun.

No electronics required.

I love imagination powered fun.  And when giving to others is involved…..well, it just about doesn’t get any better than that.

Tonight I’m giving thanks for the blessing of living on this little street where the children come in when the streetlights come on and pack in as much fun and adventures before that happens as they can.  I’m thankful for the blessing of the friendships between the neighbors and their families.  Most of all, I’m thankful for the spirit of giving and cooperation I saw tonight.

Our future, y’all.  I think we’re going to be all right.

Love to all.

 

“…..with every Christmas card I write…..”

On our way home this evening, the song “White Christmas” came on the radio.  Aub and Cooter were in the car with me, as I was humming along without really thinking about the song.  The song continued, and the lyrics played:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
with every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry…..”

and then I heard Cooter hollering at the top of his lungs from the very back seat–

“WHAT?” Palm to forehead.  “What?  I’m supposed to write Christmas cards too?”

*sigh*

Poor little guy.

Poor all of us.

How many folks have asked you, “Are you ready for Christmas?”  “Do you have it all done?”  “Have you planned your menu for the day?”

How many times have you asked those questions in an effort to make conversation?

*guilty*

All the pressure.  All the expectations.  We create list after list.  Shopping lists.  Gifts we’re giving lists.  Parties and dinners we are invited to.  Parties and dinners we want to throw.  A baking list.  A grocery list.  A list of errands.  And yes, Cooter, even a Christmas card list.

One of my sweet friends was all but apologizing to me today that her Christmas card wasn’t going out until after Christmas.  There was just too much to do and not enough time.

Bless.  Her.  Sweet.  Soul.

I remember the year I didn’t send out cards until Valentine’s.  It worked.  It was kind of fun.  And I’m guessing our card didn’t get lost in a stack with everyone else’s Valentine’s Day cards.  Just a thought.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves–scratch that.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to create the perfect Christmas full of all the perfect little moments in a clean, tidy home with lots of festive decorations and ornamentation and all of the joy and fun and laughter and contented sighs.

Yeah.

I’m betting I’m not the only one.

We have one week left, y’all.  To take it back.  To take a moment to rest and cuddle and read a Christmas story together piled up on the couch or chair or bed underneath the colorful afghans that bring me such joy with the people that make my soul glad.  Savoring the moment without worrying over the perpetual clutter or unwrapped gifts and all the other things we carry on our shoulders.  To simply be in the precious moment of NOW.

We have one week left to change our question from “Are you ready?” to “How are you?” or “Where are you finding peace and Light today?”  or “Where AM I going to find peace and Light today?”

We have one week left to change it. Even if we only take five minutes a day to step away from all the expectations and Hallmark commercials (doggone them for making me cry and wanting to create all the moments myself) and hustle and bustle and lists and pressure, and we just sit down and breathe.  And laugh.  Or listen.  Or sit next to the people we love or the people we’ve just met and BE.  That’s the goal.  If we can even take five minutes a day to welcome into our hearts the presence of Peace, we’ve come a long way from all of the things weighing on us, all of the lists we carry around, and we’re one step closer to that quiet night of reflection and Love beneath a bright star listening to the quiet, steady breaths of the little one newly come to us.

Go ahead.  Add THAT to your list.  You deserve it.  And *takes a deep breath* so do I.

Love to all.

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By Jon Curnow from London, United Kingdom (Christmas To Do List) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Christmas a Hundred Years Before

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding...

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding on a goat. Perhaps an evolved version of the Swedish Tomte. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s been a lot of talk today about Christmas in July, so it brought back one of my favorite Christmas memories.

In December 1989 a friend came home with me from college well before Christmas.  One morning we were awakened by the sound of jingle bells jingling.  Mama and Daddy had looks of surprise on their faces.  “It looks like the Christmas Spirit of 1889 came last night.”

We all gathered in the living room where, in a few weeks, we would celebrate Christmas around our yet to be chosen and decorated tree.  There was a sock laid out for each of us.  Inside the socks were a huge Bob’s peppermint stick, an orange, some nuts, and a penny, and the other matching sock.  I think that’s about right.

The cool thing is that my friend thought it was cool.  She talked about how neat it was that my parents would do something like that.  Looking back, yeah, I get it.  They were trying to help us GET the meaning of Christmas.  They had given us our own version of a “Little House” Christmas.  (I loved the Christmas episodes so much!) And I love that about my parents.  They were never much for letting us crawl back in our comfort zones and just hang out.  Both through their actions and their conversations, they challenged us in our thinking and beliefs, while at the same time being a safe place to land.  I want to be just like them when I grow up.

The other day my children were talking about underwear.  Stick with me here for a moment.  My little guy asked, “Mama, does it really mean that Santa loves you if he brings you underwear?”  Yes, I told them that.  And yes, Santa puts new underwear in your stocking around here–but only if you’ve been really, really good.  It means he REALLY loves you.  And that was going pretty well until Santa put “Olivia” underwear in our Princess’ stocking and she decided that maybe she was a little too grown, that she really didn’t want Olivia underoos. She was sweet about it though.  She appreciated them, but would ponder aloud every now and then, “I wonder why Santa thought I would love Olivia underwear.”   The oldest–she’s used to it.  Santa’s been upgrading her underwear drawer every Christmas for years.  And she never questioned it.  It’s these two littles and their questions that have made me wonder why Santa chose to make that a tradition.

And as I thought about it, I remembered that visit back to Christmas of 1889 and how Santa brought treats and things that were useful.  I guess maybe the underwear is a tip of the hat to that spirit of Christmas–where it doesn’t all have to be battery operated or come with instructions that take half the night to understand and the other half to follow.  Just good stuff, usually much needed, and a little fun.  (Well unless you’re me–they just don’t make fun underoos for us big girls.  And NO, the stuff from that place does not count.  We also want fun, whimsy, pictures of our favorite characters, and comfort.)  Anyway, it occurred to me that Santa remembers that year and what my parents were trying to instill in me back then, and he hopes to pass it along to this next generation.

Today when someone on the radio announced it was Christmas in July, I saw my littles’ eyes light up.  They asked what it meant and I told them.  I halfway expected them to ask how we were going to celebrate.  They were smart, and they didn’t; but if they had, we might have had to take a trip for new underwear.  Or socks.  (I think those things are bailing on me by the boatload.  Where do they go?!)  But that’s a story for another time.  May the true spirit of giving and Christmas be yours today and everyday!