Thankfully, this year, shopping was a relatively 'merry' experience for me. I hit some online sales and boom! Done. But for my sweet 7 year-old, holiday shopping didn't start out quite so 'merry'. It was Black Friday. Grayson really wanted to hit some of the stores, in hopes that he'd find something to buy for both his dad and his best buddy Garrett (currently in Ethiopia). So we set out. G had his wallet in tow, with just a minimal amount of cash inside. (But hey, it's the thought that counts, right?) Anyway, we got to the first store (you know, the BIG famous toy store?) and temptation began to rear its ugly head. All of sudden, G started to find a lot of things that HE really wanted. Go figure! And speaking of figuring, he's good at math. He knew that if he spent all of his money on gifts for others, there would be nothing left to buy what HE wanted. For himself. So he was having a hard time, and we ended up leaving the first 2-3 stores without any purchases. He just couldn't decide what to do. I knew that he was conflicted. Then finally after a couple of hours of indecision and about 4 stores, he stopped talking. Words gave way to big, giant alligator tears rolling down his cheeks! He felt awful! Definitely a little sad for himself but mostly a whole lot of guilty. It was really heart-wrenching to watch. But, after a few minutes, we convinced him that if he was so conflicted about how and who to spend his money on, then it was probably a sign that he should just wait and spend no money at all. We explained the whole "sleep on it" theory to him, and he agreed to just head home empty-handed.
Fast-forward to a couple of weeks later. He was ready to try again. He had, during that couple week time span, found and purchased a "special" (in the eyes of a 7 year-old) tree ornament for his buddy (think monogrammed plastic snow globe), but he wanted to get something more. So after much discussion and a lot of "Are you sure?" and "Do you remember how you felt last time?" we set out. Again. And again, at first, it was hard. This time he had more money in his wallet, which in theory meant that he could buy HIMSELF an even bigger toy--one of those Lego sets that he really, really wants--but I gently reminded him of his purpose. So he got back on track, though for the first few trips up and down the toy aisles he was very keyed in to the prices. I could tell that he was looking for the most inexpensive things to give. (Again, it IS the thought that counts, but really, does that hold true when one is pinching pennies for his own gain? I think not.) But then, it was as if the true spirit of Christmas grabbed hold of my sweet (but perhaps age-appropriately selfish) boy! He forgot about himself and began to trek up and down those aisles with new purpose until just the right gift had been found. And purchased without any hesitation. And now? Now it, along with the "special" ornament, sits wrapped under our tree waiting for an even more special friend to get back from Ethiopia. This mom is 'merry' and proud.
You'd think that Santa would be an expected source of 'merriment' during the holiday season, but perhaps you've forgotten that we have Molly and Santa is a "boy". He kind of ranks up there with Mickey Mouse. She likes the idea of him, but don't think of asking her to get within arm's reach. So you can imagine how unexpected and 'merry' it was when, after 7 years of at least one child screaming and/or flat-out refusing to go anywhere near jolly old St. Nick, my quest for the perfect Santa picture was fulfilled!!! (if I do say so myself)
But really Santa, it's no wonder that kids are scared of you! It looks as if you're about ready to pounce on my 4 year-old! :) ...
And then, well then there's the Gingerbread Man:
For a couple of years now it has been a tradition of ours to make gingerbread men cookies. The kids love it! Mostly because the first year we made them, 2 of them ran away! And if I remember right, that year they reappeared a few days later in the kids' beds (after neatly finding their way into plastic ziploc bags so as to not leave crumbs. huh! imagine that!), leaving a long trail of chocolate chips behind them all the way down the stairs. And, well, some things kids do NOT forget! Ever! So every year since then Grayson has begged to make gingerbread men just so that one will hopefully run away!
This year we do plan to make them, it just hasn't happened yet. Perhaps on Christmas Eve. But G did make a gingerbread man ornament at school. Not a cookie, but an ornament. But still he insisted on decorating it with icing. After all, without a proper mouth and ears, the gingerbread man would likely not be able to escape (???...The logic is a little iffy, but oh well.) So he decorated it. But it didn't run away. He still holds out hope though! So much hope that the other day I went upstairs to find this:
It's a trap. Constructed out of an old Build-a-Bear "condo".
"A house for you, Gingerbread Man. Filled with snacks." (a.k.a. chocolate chips)
"Push. Then close and push the tape to the wall so no bad guys will get you." And see, when the gingerbread man pushes on the tape that is carefully placed on the inside of the door, he will be stuck. Trapped! And just for good measure, all of the windows have been covered and taped as well. Poor gingerbread man. He won't know what's coming to him! ;)
Finding this little "scene" at the top of the stairs made for a whole lot of 'merry' in my heart. :) Oh to be 7 years old again!
And finally, because I am the author and I believe it affords me the right to be at least a little self-indulgent, here is definitely another reason (for me) to be 'merry':
I have a tooth. Granted, it's plastic and I can't chew on it, but it's there! After all these years and SO much money spent on specialists, surgeons, x-rays, experimental treatments, and braces, I can finally almost see the light at the end of the tunnel! And the best news? This current part of the treatment process? Being done FREE. OF. CHARGE! How's that for 'merry'?! (Okay, now I'm done making this all about me.)
All in all, it has been a wonderful December. Yes, we've been busy but thankfully not overrun by the stress that this season can bring...if you let it. We've had the privilege and opportunity to keep tabs on our friends in Ethiopia, as they welcome their new adopted daughter, Rebeka Elle, into their family. Talk about 'merry'! How we can't wait to love on that girl and kiss those sweet cheeks!
I pray that you all, too, have found the 'merry' in your daily lives this season. It's there...and it can even be free of charge! And (note to self) you don't even have to plan for it! Imagine that.
(But Allison, I SO would have LOVED your Christmas weekend downtown!!! Talk to my husband, will ya?!)