Should I admit that every night last week we (well, the girls and I) parked ourselves in front of PBS’s replay of Downton Abbey Season III? That we might have shaken our heads in anger whenever Thomas or O’Brien (good riddance, by the way!) sneaked in the shadows to do something horrid. That we relished in the beauty of the English countryside, laughed at every Maggie Smith clever remark, and cried each time someone died – especially Matthew in that terrible car accident – even though we had already seen Season III? Why the accidents? Why Matthew?! Oh – the humanity. So – even though every time-sensitive thing I needed to get done yesterday was backburnered by the the craziest day EVER (See also: surprise house guests delayed at the airport who needed a place to stay, a terrible car accident
When I was in 7th grade, my grandparents set under our tree a large, beautifully-wrapped gift. It was adorned with ribbons, bows and my name on top. My grandmother and grandfather wrapped everything and put it under the tree. Pencils, clipboards, barrettes, socks – even underwear. We still laugh at all the things they would put into a box and wrap. But this particular year, I knew that the huge box sporting my name had to be something special. It was far too nice to be filled with practical. When Christmas came, I reached for that gift as we began to open presents. I eagerly tore through the paper, literally squealing with delight as I imagined what would emerge. Then, I stared in disbelief as the face of a doll emerged. Knowing that the sweet gifters were watching, I fought to disguise my disgust. A doll? I was almost 13-years-old!
I woke up this morning, happy that yesterday was so productive. With a child in tow, we finished all our shopping (except the grocery store and a couple gift card stops) and even wrapped every gift before dinner last night. We watched Parent Trap while wrapping. Relishing every cheesy moment, sad that life has gone south for the sweet child star who shared the lead role with herself. We still have stuff undone. And I guess a lot of other people do, too. Maybe that’s why crabby seems to be ruling the day – people getting last minute stuff done. It was in the midst of such “stuff” that the child and I thought about the new spin on the 12 Days of Christmas – as we watched the display in the parking lots, on the roads and in the stores… and maybe in our house. Because that’s where it starts, I guess. 12 Hours
Several years ago, I heard our friend Ruth Meek speak at a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. She shared ideas on Redeeming Christmas. Wonderful tidbits of encouraging and fun information passed her lips, but one, the idea of Secret Santa-ing someone in need – real need – often unspoken need – isolating life-need, stuck and continues to stick with our family. The gist: think about someone who had a tough year and bless them with presents, gift cards, an act of kindness – whatever. But do it anonymously. Which is the fun part. Nothing like teaching your kids to ring and run; but there’s something about surprising someone and watching from a safe distance the reaction when they open the door and see a physical manifestation of unexpected blessing. And, more importantly, it brings to the forefront