We have been talking about giving in my classes. I know it is not Christmas but this is a good reminder of the right way to do it. It is from December 26, 2010.
We always opened presents on Christmas Eve but not everyone follows our family tradition. I wrote yesterday about spending several days with the family of Sally, my sister-in-law, out in western Kansas. The Kurts open their gifts on the 25th and as a guest, I was invited to witness. They assigned me the easy chair next to the fireplace, a seat, I was told, given to the newest member of the tribe. (I also was told it was the hottest but in actuality, a very comfortable spot.) It was evident the ceremony would take time based on the multitude of brightly wrapped boxes and stockings for each of the Kurts. Imagine my surprise as I settled in and I discovered three presents intended for me! As my turn came in the rotation, I opened a box from the Kurts, a T-shirt from Hugoton High School- Go Eagles! (It's safe to say that I possess the only HHS shirt in Houston, Texas.) But there were two other gifts for me and both were from Mary. The daughter of Phil and Susan (Sally's other sister) Watson, Mary is a junior at Oklahoma Christian University, majoring in education and foreign languages. I have to confess I don't know her well. Over the years, I've seen Mary at weddings, funerals, and various holiday gatherings but we haven't interacted much. I know she's been on mission trips (Honduras, Zambia) and her father is from the same hometown in Arkansas as my mother but that's about it. And yet, she took the time to think of me, not quite a stranger but not quite closely related, on that special day. The gifts were neat; a bag of ground Starbucks Breakfast Blend and a big candy bar from Vienna where Mary spent the fall semester. But, as often happens, the unexpectedness aspect was the best part of the moment and it was already a very good moment.
Still, that was not my first Mary story of the day. Everybody stayed up late on Christmas Eve and slept in. I woke earlier than most but because the stairs creaked with every step, I remained in my upstairs room so I would not disturb anyone. Finally, I crept down to the first floor and found Phil and Susan sitting in the living room. Mary, their youngest, came in and asked if they remembered what anniversary it was. It happened to be my folks' sixty-first anniversary but I doubted anyone else knew that, even though there is a decent chance Phil's dad was at the wedding. Mary reminded her parents it was her ten year spiritual birthday, that on Christmas Day, 2000, she and her sister Betsy were baptized into Jesus Christ. WOW- the celebration of Christ's birth and the celebration of Mary's birth into Christ on the same day. As I look back over the last thirty-six hours, I feel a kinship to The Little Drummer Boy- you know, no tangible gift to offer. So, Mary, I have only one way to show my appreciation for helping to make my Christmas one to remember; This Blog's For You. I'm not sure how many people will read this entry tonight but those who take the time will read about you and your kindness and maybe be encouraged to do the same themselves. Merry Christmas, Mary, and Happy Birthday. Save me a seat for next year.
Applicable quote of the day:
"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly."
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