Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Helpers in the Attic

Don’t you just love the Holiday Season? This is my favorite time of the year! I am ever so grateful for the Reason for the Season and also appreciate the beauty of it all. Besides savoring a flavorful cup of my favorite brew, decorating is the second best thing I love during the holidays. The smell of wood burning fireplaces or pine is so refreshing on a cold night.  Listening to Holiday music, giving to those in need, and admiring beautifully lit trees are some of the makings of the Spirit of Christmas.
But, I also realize that not everyone feels the same about this time of the year. This season is especially hard on those who have lost loved ones. And loss cannot be measured by how long it has been or even how old or young an individual was. It is immeasurable as is the pain and heartache. Even a loss by separation is a loss; a loss of a job is a loss and its relevance should not be lesser. Every emotional aspect of our lives plays a part in how we perceive, observe, celebrate and react to this time of the year.  I too have had losses over the years and it has not been” Merry” every year.  The support of family and friends as well as an understanding of God’s purpose and importance in my life sustains me. When we are at our lowest, we should remember to surround ourselves with positive things and remember where our help comes from.  ‘… from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord …’ Psalm 121: 1-2.  I also believe that it is important to focus on the simplest of blessings like good health and things which bring joy to mind.  ‘...whatsoever things are pure…if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ Philippians 4: 8.

As I think of my most memorable Christmases, I am reminded of the years my now, late husband and I really thought we had devised plans to camouflage nametags on gifts we had bought for our kids.  We did this so that they wouldn’t know how many or which gift was theirs under the tree.   But first understand that we had five kids… Yours, Mine, and Ours!  We had, what is now considered a ‘blended family’. It may not sound like many kids but the age difference between the oldest and youngest was 14 years which made things very interesting.  And the days of the youngest believing that Santa Claus brought the gifts down the chimney --- that story was painfully tainted very early, through the older kids’ revelation. 

When our family started to grow, we learned to buy gifts early and do layaways. Our hiding places were generally our closet and under the bed. Then we graduated to the ATTIC, which we thought to be an unreachable place for the kids to search, because the ceilings were steep! It was somewhat out of sight, right? Wrong! Young and dumb were we as parents… they were literally “steps” ahead of us! 
So, each year we labeled or wrapped their gifts differently so that they could not guess whose gift it was. For instance, we might wrap the oldest child’s gift (who is a girl) in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wrapping paper. Then one year we labeled them with the names of their favorite color. Along with opening one gift on Christmas Eve, this mystery game became a tradition. They were always ‘surprisingly,’ surprised to learn what label they had (or so we thought).  Our satisfaction in all of this was that they didn’t know what was inside the packages until Christmas Day; again or so we thought.

The highlight of the guessing game was number labels. This time we made sure to notate the labeling so that we would not forget.  The oldest was 15 years old, but we put the number 15 on a gift that really belonged to the two year old, and so on. When Christmas day came, they had figured out our pattern. “How could they figure it out”? It was not mathematically possible!  Remember, the ATTIC idea? Well we found out ‘many years later’ that somebody (questionable who) climbed into the attic and strategically unwrapped gifts to see what they had gotten. Not only did ‘SHE’ unwrap, but also played with her gift before rewrapping it. Did she have a helper? How long had this been going on is still a mystery.  “As I think about it, maybe that’s why it seemed I was forever vacuuming up bits of insulation.” We will never know...

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