The time to prepare for gift giving and festivities is quickly running out — a fact that is surely a source of stress for all the last minute planners.
Yet, as the frenzied part of the season dies down, we are afforded the time to enjoy our loved ones, and reflect on life’s true gifts.
These gifts, unable to be dressed up in ribbons or bows, require no fancy packaging. It is sappy, I know, but what is the holiday season, if not a chance to unashamedly embrace our inner sap?
Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a home, health, and the love of a special person or two are already blessed beyond measure.
This week, as I hurriedly prepared to run out the door to my next obligation, my youngest child called to me to wait. He quickly grabbed a sheet of paper, and drew a silly character with the hugest smile. He pressed it into my hands with a hug, and told me to take it with me, to help me remember to always be happy.
This little paper hit me like a ton of bricks. In all of my running around, shopping, and cooking, the feel of the season was getting lost. I was rushing to obligations, instead of celebrating opportunities.
I now have this little drawing on my nightstand, and while some obligations cannot be erased, I am going to heed the advice of my wise child, and try a little harder to meet them with a smile, remembering just how happy I have cause to be.
I’m betting that I’m not the only one who can sometimes use a reminder. As we close out the year, and continue to celebrate the intangible gifts of the season, here are a couple of feel good Christmas stories to touch your heart, and foster the spirit of joyful giving:
“The 13th Gift: The True Story of a Christmas Miracle,” by Joanne Huist Smith. As Smith mourned the unexpected death of her husband, she wondered how she would be able to lift up her children and celebrate the holidays, even while they all were grieving. Then, 12 days before Christmas, gifts began arriving on the family’s doorstep, with the cards signed only by “Your True Friends.”
The anonymous gifts gave the family something to focus on besides their grief. As they come together to try and solve the mystery, looking forward to each new gift, we see the power small acts of kindness can have on those who are in need, and are reminded about the things that really matter.
“The Angel Tree,” by Daphne Benedis-Grab. This middle-grade novel tells the story of the town of Pine River. Each holiday season, a tree appears in the town square. People tie wishes to the tree, and somehow, the wishes are granted. No one knows who is responsible for putting up the tree, or granting the wishes, but the beautiful tradition has given hope to many townspeople who have fallen on hard times.
This year, four children set out to discover who the Great Benefactor is, so they might offer their thanks. Along the way, they learn about both themselves and others, and the power of true friendship.
In the waning days of the year, I hope that each of us will find the time to look for our own small holiday miracles, wherever they are. There is joy to be found in the everyday, whether it comes in providing hope to someone in need, graciously receiving gifts from others, or just celebrating the power of a pencil-drawn smile.
Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at [email protected]