Long ago, and far away, there lived a young woman. No, she wasn't a princess...she was just an ordinary everyday young woman living an ordinary everyday kind of life.
She had three beautiful small sons who loved her dearly
and she doted on their every little mischievous grin.
The holidays would come along and this woman would begin to pull her hair out.....cookies to bake, presents to buy (always way too many, sometimes there was no room under the tree for all those presents and they would spill out into the middle of the room), stocking stuffers to wrap (you can NEVER stuff a stocking with unwrapped presents now, can you? What would Santa say when you're his number one helper?), Willa's special fruitcake to make in the old Beech Companion cookstove, special pickles to make for those hard to buy for people, turkeys orders to take then turkeys to round up in the turkey pen and bring to the butchers in time to fill those holiday orders, and so on and so on and on it went.
At the end of the day, the woman would be so exhausted, she would barely make it upstairs to bed. By the time the week before Christmas would roll around, she would be so burnt-out from all the shopping, social functions, baking, list making and decorating, that she would often find herself wishing it was all over and done with and the new year was here.
Here she was again, wishing her life away; doing the EXACT thing her Mother had told her not to do when she was a little girl; but, she was just soooooooo tired.
Sighing heavily to herself, she would wrap more presents late into the night, bake more special cookies, and put up a few more decorations. She would have two giant get-togethers at Christmas and invite all of her family. One on Christmas Eve and of course she always prepared a giant feast on Christmas day.
Throughout it all, she would find moments of happiness, and tugs at her heart when her small sons were unwrapping gifts, or whenever she would see the twinkle in their eyes as they anticipated the big day. Every December 26th she would announce to her Mother and any other family members within earshot, that next year it was going to be different.
Next year, they would not buy all of these gifts, send all of these cards, do all this decorating and baking and entertaining. No. Next year they would all go to a cosy log cabin in the woods and have a peaceful and simple quiet little Christmas enjoying one another and the sights and sounds of the natural beauty that surrounded them. Of course, next year would come, and she would go through the same hustle and bustle all over again.
Then one day, the woman found herself alone. Her sons had all
grown up and moved far away. They didn't all come home for Christmas every year and there were fewer stockings to stuff and no one to really do a lot of decorating or baking for anymore. Instead of having everyone over to her place at the holidays, she was now invited to her brother's places for Christmas celebrations.
Christmas was quiet now, too quiet. She found herself dreaming of the days when her sons were small and she was worked to the bone decorating, shopping, baking, and entertaining. Quickly she would banish all those thoughts from her inner being when the ache in her heart got a little bit too much to bear.
What she would give to have even one day back when there were three small mischievous boys at her feet and someone always ready and eager to eat the frosted sugar cookies.
Bringing herself back to the reality of her present day, she would begin to realize, it was never about the presents and the baking and the decorating and the entertaining. It was about the people. None of those things meant anything without the joy of the people she loved surrounding her.
The best part of the holidays, she began to remember, was the dazzling sparkle in little Iain's giant brown eyes as he told his tales of what he used to be in his other lifetime before he was born.
The best parts of the holidays were sitting up late, late on Christmas Eve with Mom and giggling like school girls as they looked at the mountain of presents they had bought and wrapped for her sons, her Mother's grandsons and the laughter that would erupt from her Mom's mouth when she would bring out a giant stocking, a pillow case with a big red bow on it, filled with a zillion little wrapped-up things that she knew her Mother could use and enjoy.
The best part of the holidays were after dinner when her brothers, Clayton and Curtis, would get out their guitars and little David, her oldest son, would get out his little guitar and play along with his Uncles while everyone sang their favourite songs and of course all erupted into laughter when Uncle Curt would sing 'Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer'.
The best parts of the holidays were going to her Dad's on Boxing day for a family get together of cousins and Aunt and Uncle and once again little Iain would exclaim ' The best part of coming to Grandpa's at Christmas is seeing all the smoke and hearing everyone laugh so much when Grandpa has a fire in his oven once again. How do you do that Grandpa? '
Little Iain believed it was all planned that way....well, perhaps it was.
The best parts of the holidays were when the boys had opened up all of their gifts and would get along with one another all day long and each older boy would show their little brother Robbie, how to use certain toys or how to set up the train track. They would show exemplary patience, gentleness and love for one another.
The best parts of the holidays were watching the Red Cardinals coming to the bird feeder and stringing together popcorn strings while cinnamon sticks simmered on the old cookstove.
The best part of the holidays were looking out on Christmas Eve at the peacefulness of the fields while snow fell softly covering nature's beauty with a white snow-down blanket of stillness. It always snowed on Christmas Eve back then, always.
What were her best gifts both given and received? They were intangibles like memories of the special scents of pine and cloves floating through the house, fleeting smiles of loved ones, some now gone, watching It's A Wonderful Life and How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the 11th time with loved ones and enjoying them even more than the very first time she had seen them.
The best gifts she received were the look of joy on her son's faces, the
special album of stories and pictures of ancestors her Dad had made for
her one year, the mittens her best friend Carol Ann had knit for her, the warm slippers her Aunt Claudette had crocheted for her and the special photo album her Mom had put together filled with all the pictures from her childhood.
Christmas and Thanksgiving are times of angels. Angels fill every human suit and angelic energy is all around us.
Take time and immerse yourself in the beauty and joy of that energy. Take time to observe the smiles of the angels all around you.
Reciprocate every warm angel hug you receive and know how truly blessed you are.
Give a gift of yourself, your time, your love, your smile and an extra bit of care as you take time to listen to a client, friend, family member or an elderly shopper in a store.
Attend the special events like Santa Claus parades and town tree lightings and walk down silent snowy streets with your children 'just because'.
Stay cosy with your loved ones and be thankful for
all you have and all you are and for being here on this earth, in this time, and most of all, relish the very moment you are in, for it is all anyone of us truly has.
One day you will look back on the holiday memories you are creating today, and feel a small pull at your heart as you remember how truly blessed you were, and how you were often too busy to grasp onto every intangible gift while you still had time.
They say that when you are old, and all you have left is your memories, what you will remember most is the special 'moments' of your life, not the hours, not the days, not the months and not the years.
'Moments' are what count the most, for you, and for all of those whose lives you touch.
This holiday season, which is now upon us and will last into the new year, give the gift of 'moments' to all of those who cross your path.
One day, long into the future and far away, they will open up your gifts once more, and they will thank you all over again.