Another Christmas has come and gone and a new year is rapidly approaching. We find ourselves still enjoying the newness of the gifts given and recieved, and revel in the lingering warmth of the holiday. Amid all of the delicious food and snacks and presents and contentment, sometimes we overlook the intangible gifts of this and other seasons.
Like many who celebrate holidays at this time of year, I always find myself wishing that I could do more for others. I am also stunned and humbled by the gifts and love that I receive. The general warmth and goodwill that can be felt around holidays is a truly special thing. As I reflect on the things that made these recent days a delight, what really sticks out for me are not just the big things, but the small, the delightful, the lovely moments.
One of the best things about Christmas happened on Christmas Eve. After working a long day in the meat and seafood department of a large supermarket, my sister Liz came over to spend Christmas Eve with us. She was able to wipe off the tarnish of customers who waited until just before the store was closed and were furious that there was no more prime rib. They couldn't believe the store would be closed on Christmas. What if they needed food? We shook our heads about the drama and exchanged our love and our gifts.
Our feast of clam chowder and garlicky rolls was accompanied by smiles and laughter, the best seasonings of all. What made this Christmas even more special is that Liz told us that it was the best and most relaxed Christmas that she has had in at least fifteen years. We are hoping for it to be the first of many together - Liz and her cat Brutus will be making their home with us soon. Perhaps The Lunatic will write some more about this on a later date. Suffice it to say that this is a positive and welcome change.
The next day, The Lunatic and husband are sitting in the back row at a church service. Always the back row, because people who are sick tend to cough their cooties toward the front of the room. An immunosuppressed person tends to stay more healthy sitting behind the cooties. On one end of the back row are an extended family group, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and cousins. All of the little ones are under five years of age. Grandpa produces a bag of multi-colored miniature marshmallows to help keep the kids occupied and to try and prevent boredom. A boy of about four passes by and tells me that the boy with him is his little brother. A few minutes later, he stands in front of me, the bag of marshmallows clutched in his little hands. "Do you want a marshmallow? They taste really good!" What response could I have other than to thank him and eat a marshmallow? It was one of the best marshmallows I have ever eaten. It was probably one of those magical marshmallows that could grow Grinch hearts three sizes on any day, so naturally it touched mine. This child who doesn't even know me, and who wasn't told to share, couldn't keep the simple joy of marshmallows all to himself. I felt well and truly gifted.
On the day after Christmas, we went to visit our friends Marie and Thayne. Also there were her daughter and son-in-law, and their two daughters, aged four and almost one year. Sometimes I forget how easy it can be to make a small child happy. The baby was thrilled to have anyone say anything to her in a silly tone of voice. If her smile had been any larger, you could have fallen right in to that pool of happiness. And I was able to score some points with Big Sister when I asked if I could have one of her (plastic) cupcakes. She was delighted to place it on a plastic plate and serve it to me. Being someone who is not afraid to look silly in front of a small child, I let my goofiness run free. Her face lit up as I "slurped" up the frosting and exclaimed at how much I liked frosting and that her cupcakes were very yummy. Getting huge smiles from two children within minutes is a gift beyond compare. I went home feeling once again that I had been very greatly gifted.
I'm wishing for you, my friends and readers, that every day you live can be gifted. If we can still get joy from the intangible things in life, what more do we need?
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