My oldest daughter has always been quite persistent. And for the past few weeks she has been nagging me about the stockings which are hung on the bannister every year. (we don't currently own a mantle). I told her to quit bugging me, since in some families, stockings are not filled until Christmas Eve.
And this made me think about how I love unexpected gifts. Not only the gifts one might see bulging in stockings, or wrapped under (the most beautiful, gangly) tree. In the past 48 hours, I have received gifts such as these and I'd like to pass some of them along to you. Because beauty and pain coexist, and yes, I cry a great deal, but I still experience beauty.
Every comment is a gift.
Every private and sincere e-mail is a gift.
I don't deserve them, but I accept.
Every time I read a blog that dares be honest, I am the recipient.
This morning I received a Christmas card from daycare parents who sometimes cause me pain, the sort of pain that comes of caring deeply. And the hand-written note says: "Thank you for everything you do for us. We wouldn't know what to do without you.
Brian, Arianna, Jane, Micah, and Sam: Thank you for sharing Joyce with us".
It is a true gift to be appreciated, and I believe that they really mean it.
Yesterday when I took the (five) pre-schoolers out for a walk, I received two lovely gifts. We stopped at the pharmacy for a prescription, and the pharmacist said the most sincere "Merry Christmas" to me. Maybe I'm reading into things way too much, but I just felt like he was reaching across the counter at us, and wrapping me in a warm and sincere hug of well wishes. I asked him if he celebrated Christmas, not knowing what faith he practises. "Oh, yes", he said with a smile. Maybe it sounds corny, but it felt like a gift to me.
Then we traipsed on down the sidewalk, me pulling the baby in the sleigh and the boys climbing every single mound of snow along the way. An older woman passed us on the sidewalk with a big grin on her face, obviously amused at the youthful gang. She made it all the way to the bank, in and out, then passed us again on her way by. We'd only made it half a block.
She reached her hand out to me, and with the warmest smile said;
"God bless you in what you do".
She couldn't have known that the gift I badly need right now is a Blessing from God.