Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The boys are on Christmas break. All my Wisdom & Whimsy orders have been picked up or delivered. Toy and food drive contributions have been dropped off. Outstanding clerical duties have been tied up (I hope!) We skipped one big family get-together to take advantage of a much-needed early night on Friday. Saturday we visited with our in-town relatives on Kevin's side to exchange gifts with the kids and talk with the adults. Sunday found us hosting my side of the family with so many smiles and giggles and yummy goodies (great turkey, Mom, and the potato soup... delicious if I do say so myself!) I'm still finding bits of wrapping paper in the cushions.
Kevin & I don't do much for each other at Christmas. I share my love, he shares his warmth. This was a concession we made to economizing.... I miss my stocking, but I'm all grown up. I can handle it. The boys, however, like to pick out presents for both of us. Usually I will take them shopping for Kev, and he will take them out for me. He always makes it sound torturous... and I laugh til I'm blue in the face. We're kind to each other like that. He never seems to quite understand that I shop with them regularly... and there's a reason I try to do it while they are at school.
This year, we found ourselves short of time. I still managed to take them shopping for Daddy... but it didn't quite happen in reverse. So I took them shopping for me... and felt incredibly awkward. They chose Shoppers Drug Mart and I tried to not peek.... and then in my effort to shop local and support small business as well, we went to a unique local shop called Coach House Studio.
Coach House Studio features artists and crafters, as well as some other home-and-gift type goods. Most of it's up my alley... and they have customer service down to a fine art. Seriously... that means so much to me. A smile. Friendly chit chat. Assistance when you want it. Space when you need it. And such an amazing variety of constantly changing goods.... I could browse all day. The pricing is fair - you have a good range so you don't have to break the bank (although you most definitely could.) An amazing selection of big & small ticket items for anyone who likes warm & cozy.
Yesterday the clerk working took the time to help two little boys find mom a gift. She suggested we walk through the store - jot down ideas or they could remember.... and afterwards, she helped the boys select an item or two, wrapped them before mom could pay, and still managed to keep us under budget. The boys are THRILLED about their choices.... and I have to say I'm a little excited as well. Not because I NEED anything... but their excitement was contagious. I had to keep reminding J not to ruin the surprise... wrapping paper hit the ceiling when they got home and I think they used an entire roll of tape. But, they were oh-so happy!
In our pre-Christmas chaos, we also had our annual trip to SickKids. J had been putting together a box of toys and such to donate. We picked up some small items from the bargain bins at Target. Kevin & Kaleb hauled it in (while Justin & I ran to our appointment... we were close to being late).... only to find out that people are so incredibly generous SickKids was turning away donations. I was a little disappointed for him... he seemed to be okay with donating them local though, so we added them to the Operation Scugog bin close to home. We had good news during our appointment (better ranges than last year) and were told he's a relatively healthy kid. (We knew that.)
On the way home, we encountered another giving/learning opportunity. While approaching the on-ramp to the DVP, we saw a homeless man holding his cardboard sign. My kids are sheltered. We don't see a lot of social issues like this in our small rural community - yes, there are needs and we encourage generosity... but homelessness isn't as visible. We didn't have any spare change or cash on hand... and in all honestly, we probably wouldn't have passed it on. However, mom packed a snack bag for the trip to the hospital that we really didn't touch - granola bars, clementines, a couple of juice boxes. Nothing exciting. Nothing big. But sitting at that intersection waiting for the light to change, I at first dismissed the need... and then it hit me. Why not? We didn't need it... we were heading to a meal out. So we rolled down the window and passed him the snacks. Nothing big.... but his gratitude.
Oh, his gratitude was humbling.... and it was an opportunity to discuss and teach... and maybe create just a little more caring in the future generation. As we drove away I was teary eyed - it's so easy to think we have it bad... but there are so many who have it worse. It's easy to sit in judgement.... but we never know the whole story. The questions started... we gave simple, honest answers. We asked questions ourselves... and the boys, they learned. We may have brought a brief moment of gratitude to a stranger.... but I think we all realised how fortunate we are... and how easy a small gesture can bring a smile. Hopefully it's a lesson they remember... and the next time they see a need, they don't ignore it, but try to creatively be a blessing.
Friday, December 12, 2014
This time of year it's so easy to get caught up in the need-tos... need to do this, need to go there, need to find that, etc. A season that should be reflective of all the good and joy around us become one big anxiety-ridden to-do list. The joy gets sucked out of everything and things become an obligation that we just can't wait to be over. We stress about the bills. We fret about the food. We worry about the shopping list. We scurry to get it all done.
But how much are we missing amongst the bustle? How many small moments and big treasures are unappreciated or undiscovered because we're stuck just trying to do it all. How many times do we lose sight of the true gifts around us?
Today I read a devotional with an excerpt from Max Lucado's In The Manger and it hit close to home. We're no different than millions of people for thousands of year. Sometimes it's so easy to let everyday life get in the way of an extraordinary life - a life where the truly important things are anticipated and enjoyed.
This statement resonated with me - not just on the "religious" side of things... but also when I think of the other precious gifts around me - my family, my friends, time spent together, memories in the small moments: "Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival—missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it simply because they weren’t looking."
So amidst my own hustle and bustle, I'm going to make a conscious effort to not just hang on or coast through while scratching off items on my list. I'm going to keep my eyes open and watch for the extraordinary among the ordinary and recognize those special gifts... and maybe take the time to smile instead of getting impatient with the overwhelmed cashier. Give a hug to my kids when they least expect it. Enjoy the fact we're all snuggled on the couch watching another episode of some superhero show instead of bemoaning all that I have yet to do. There is so much to discover when you keep your eyes open.