A few minutes of reflection on the last couple of days...
I am one of those people who does the bulk of their shopping on Christmas Eve. I always have been. I recall one year when I was a teenager not only doing my shopping on Christmas Eve - but doing it on my ten speed bike. That year I had Mom's name (when you come from a family of 5 kids...playing Pollyanna is the only way to go!!) (where does the name "Pollyanna" come from??) and I had gotten her a painting by a friend of the family. So I ended up biking with bags in each hand, including one containing a 10x12 artwork.
Some years I wish for the all-encompassing excitement of that particular year. Some years it comes...some years it doesn't. The thrill of hiding the perfect gift...and then when the reveal is just as exciting...it is just magical. Mom is one of the absolute best names to get...she (for reasons I don't understand) does not expect anything special. And so it doesn't take much to make her cry tears of happiness.
This year I drew my sister Karen's name. And she loved the gifts that I chose (a book of letters between Nancy and Ronald Reagan, the movie "Love Letters", an Itunes gift card and a nice painting by our Aunt Sally) but the thing that got the tears??? A card.
I'm not sure how long ago I started what is now a Christmas tradition for me...I write a card to each member of my family to let them know how they have been a gift in my life. Sometimes there are silly recollections. Sometimes reminders to them how very special they are (we forget if we aren't told!!). The family refers to them as the "tear jerker notes". Not too long ago, when cleaning my room for company, I found a note from a friend who has since gone on to heaven. It wasn't long...and I think it was the only correspondence I ever got from Kathleen. But her message to me was clear: I appreciate having you in my life.
And reading it reminded me that our connections to the people in our life...that is what is really important. And yes, there were tears when I re-read it. And placed it carefully back in a place that I will discover it again. Maybe on one of those days that I don't think I matter...and it will remind me that I do.
Shopping on Christmas Eve may not be for everyone...the stores are a little bit wrecked, and the staff is pretty tired. But I like it! The pressure is building and the excitement is mounting...and I have a deadline (which is usually how I function best...).
The family usually gathers for lunch (and beverages). That tradition started so long ago, Charley's was still in the mall!! During the early years it was a place of rest between spurts of shopping. Now, you will rarely find me in the mall. I only go there now for the movie theater (and really only go to the movies to have popcorn!) and an annual Hickory Farms sandwich. This year we had our gathering (12 of us...only missing Karen and Kenny, who were still working...) at LaCaretta! It is (like most of our family gatherings) a noisy time - full of laughing, joking and teasing.
And one tear jerker moment...as we were leaving the restaurant my brother Gordon handed me a bag. I looked inside to see glue and glitter. Tears came to my eyes to know that not only does he read my blog - but on a very busy day, he went to a store to get these things. To let me know that he remembered too. And that simple gesture is what it is all about.
After the shopping was done, and the Christmas Eve service was over, I sat and laughed with Mom, Denise and Karen in the dining room. I squeezed glue on Christmas balls and got glitter all over the place! And my sisters attempted to help with the project...and letters oozed...and I even shattered one ball. And we laughed some more. But now everyone in the family has a ball with their name on it again (at most of them are legible). But it wasn't the project that was important - it was the laughter.
As you may recall, we are just wrapping up a study of the disciples in the youth Sunday school class. There is a church tradition which says, that when John was an old man he was invited to speak at the church in Ephesus. He was so feeble that he had to be carried into the church. After long-winded introductions he stood to speak and his message was this: "Little children, love one another. Love one another. Love one another." And then he sat down. When asked why he said, "It is the Lord's command. And if this alone be done, it is enough."
Merry Christmas everyone. Love one another.