Off Topic - But Hey ..... It's Winter.
First, feel free to comment on what I'm about to post, or take the conversation in any direction you want to go. As noted, it's winter and there's not a whole lot going on outside here, so I've been musing.
I am, like a fair number of people who take the time to ponder life, more than a little disenchanted with the commercialization of Christmas. I know - THAT was a 'duh' moment, huh? It's just that Christmas has become all about commitments to the gods of acquisition, instead of commitment to nurturing relationships with the most important in your life. It's become more about 'things', and making sure the right people get enough to keep them from thinking you're cheap. Sigh.
I'm sorry. I'm really here to tell you a story about two familial glimpses of the real Christmas spirit that made indelible impressions on my heart. They both occurred at our extended family gatherings, one about 5 years ago, the other last night.
Gathered at our home were my three children and their families, my brother and 3 sisters and their families, and my mom. Prolly about 25 people. The grandkids open their gifts first, and they open them one at a time so everyone can see what they are receiving and enjoy their excitement. After a couple of rounds of gift-opening, it was my oldest grandson's turn. Seven years old at the time, he was 3/4 of the way across the family room and sort of in the middle of the gathering. He had a long, fairly large package; I don't even remember what was in it, but he was standing and turned sideways to me, tearing the paper off as he held the package clenched between his knees. Suddenly he just stopped opening the gift. Still holding the wrapping paper in his hands, he squeezed it in his little hands and brought his fists to his chest in a display of excitement. Clutching the paper to his chest and slightly bent forward from the waist, you could easily see the little shudder that went through him as he turned his head toward me and said, "Grampa, my feelings are all filled up!"
I thought, "From the mouths of babes ....." and my eyes suddenly filled with tears as I realized a grandfather had been blessed with a glimpse directly into his grandson's heart. I'll never forget that moment (waxing nostalgic now, in fact) and as soon as I regained enough of my composure, I charged my daughter with the responsibility of never forgetting it either.
Last night, the family gathering was at my brother's home. I have a sister that is sort of the black sheep of the family for a variety of reasons, and she normally doesn't attend family gatherings. She and her husband have a special needs daughter, her stepdaughter, who has learning and emotional disorders that are noticeable, but not debilitating, and I can't help but feel in my heart that they are not patient enough with her. She was abused by a member of her father's family as a small child, and undoubtedly bears the scars of that, along with her other crosses. The family has very little income and they just manage to get by, so she is not used to things that aren't essential to daily living. She is the sweetest child, and you can't help but immediately want to wrap her in your arms and squeeze her tight.
Upon arriving at my brothers and realizing that my sister and family were there, we were heartsick that we hadn't come prepared with a gift for the daughter. Since we have a granddaughter slightly younger, my quick-thinking wife changed a name tag on one of many gifts that were intended for our granddaughter. A couple of others employed some similar strategy so she would have gifts to open.
As it worked out, our gift was the first she opened. It was something that most of us would consider a 'filler' gift - just 'something' the child could open ....... but not to little Skyler. The gift was nothing more than a small and inexpensive assortment of bath amenities that had been packaged for children - bubble bath and the like.
When she opened that first gift, emotions too many to count played across her face. It was like you handed her the most precious gift that anyone had ever seen. She clutched it to her chest in the same way my grandson had clutched the wrapping paper. She sniffed the fragrance coming from the package, looked at it again, and then hugged it, repeating that sequence over and over; then she offered it to everyone near for a sniff, so they could also appreciate the fragrance. She even asked her mom if she could take a bath .... now.
I looked at my wife, sitting at my side to see if she saw what I did. I was already teared up, but when I looked at her, she was crying, which moved me even more to know that I wasn't the only one that was affected by what we had just witnessed.
To behold such pure joy and excitement was, to me, another blessing I'll count among those I could never forget. As I sat there thinking about what I'd just seen, the realization that what seemed like an insignificant gift that had been destined to be just another of many given to a child who had been blessed with a mother and father able to provide her with every advantage, had somehow been transformed into something very, very special - something that brought Christmas to a precious child ...... isn't that a Christmas miracle?