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Yet even before Christmas morning arrives this year, our family already received a present that I believe will take the cake. It was a gift from my sister-in-law, Tracy Moody (David’s sister who happens to be a teacher, with a Masters in Child Development), given to our family and especially to our two boys (ages 8 and 10). No it wasn’t a Wii or an iPad; it wasn’t anything you could find on the shelves at Toys R Us or the Apple Store.
Actually, their aunt gave them 12 gifts—each to be opened on the 12 days leading up to Christmas. For each day, we have a numbered envelope (decorated by Tracy’s children), which holds a special story inside along with a symbolic edible treat. This is not meant to be a somber post, but rather something to share and make us think about looking within our hearts this time of year. Every evening, we have been sitting down together as a family and reading one of the stories before the boys go to bed. Each story has an interesting cast of characters, an exciting plot, and a new message.
The message of each story is the kind that really hits home when it comes to remembering the true meaning of Christmas. A story called “Christmas Day in the Morning” was about a family who pulled together their piggy bank savings and grocery money to anonymously help another family in need. On Christmas morning in church, the family who received the gifts shared their story and deep gratitude with the congregation, which gave the other family the most meaningful gift – listening to their joy.
Another titled “An Older Brother’s Gift” seemed strikingly familiar to my boys. Two brothers entered a reading contest, for which the prize was a new bike, yet the younger brother had trouble reading. The older brother read 280 books to win the competition, and in the end, he chose the smaller bike as a gift to his younger brother.
Another was an amazing background story about the author of Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer. His story reminded the boys not to outcast someone for being different, which is what the story of Rudolph teaches as well. There’s beauty in everyone. My sister-in-law found a way to make each story so relatable to my boys, which allowed the messages to resonate.
And last night’s envelope held a mythological tale of the mistletoe and its mystical power. The treat that came with it was different from all the previous ones—instead of milk chocolate, they were White Chocolate Hershey’s Kisses with Peppermint Chips. I’m allergic to the caffeine in milk chocolate, so needless to say I was overjoyed by these little white-chocolate treats! (I never get to eat them throughout the year, despite my pleas to my pastry-chef husband. David says they’re not “real” chocolate, and you’ll never catch him baking with a fake substance!)
I think about what David and I had growing up, and then I think about how my boys will never know a Christmas where we didn’t have enough—enough food, enough toys, enough to heat the house. My boys are great boys, although I never want them to lose sight of what’s important or take blessings for granted.
I knew their aunt’s message had hit home when my youngest asked me to give some of his Christmas presents this year to kids who didn’t have any. “Just maybe don’t give away my best gift, Mom.” I told him that was a very nice thing to offer, and his best gift would be kept safe with Santa for being extra nice.
It’s funny how these life lessons for kids can evoke emotions and thoughts just as deeply with their parents. I’ve certainly appreciated the reminder of what Christmas is all about, especially with so many unfortunate happenings this past month. I have shed happy and sad tears with each message and that’s been good for me. My sis-in-law, she’s a smart lady. Thank you Tracy!
I’m Simone. And this is what simone sez…