This evening I had the pleasure of attending BalletMet’s The Nutcracker with my mom, daughter, sister, and niece. It’s become a holiday tradition, and a favorite one at that.
We took the kids to visit with Santa last week, and we somehow managed to get all three kids into the photo. Trust me, after waiting in line, that is no small feat! The kids shared with Santa some of the things they hope to find under our tree on Christmas morning, and it was really cute.
After paying an obnoxious amount of money for a photo with the big guy in the red suit, we let the kids browse through a nearby toy store. While they enjoyed shopping the store, it was probably kind of cruel to set them loose this close to Christmas. Obviously, we weren’t about to buy them new toys (Hanukkah starts this week, too!), but they were allowed to look for quite a long time.
Alex somehow stumbled upon a toy gun that shoots out bright orange foam balls, and he fell in love with it. Because, of course. Guns are one toy that I discourage for my kids; I just don’t like them to play with them (if you do allow it for your kids, that’s great; but, I prefer not to, and that’s great too). Alex was determined, though, to buy this particular toy. I explained to him, again, that we were not there to buy toys that night. He refused to leave the check out line, though, so we launched into one of our stand offs (where we have to wait in a particular place so I can out-stubborn him).
This kid has become quite clever, though. He finally conceded that I wasn’t going to buy the gun, so he decided he would just take it out to Santa so he would know what to bring him. I then had to remind him that we can’t leave stores with an item if we don’t pay for it, and asked him for maybe the 23rd time to put it back on its shelf.
But, Alex had other ideas. Tilting his head, he explained to me that he would just leave the toy on the counter and ask the toy store lady to tell Santa about it. I kind of wanted to see this play out, so I agreed that this was a good plan.
He proudly marched up to the counter and when the lady asked him if he was ready to check out, he answered “No. This is for Santa to bring to me.”
I was standing right behind him, and the lady’s eyes met mine and I nodded. “Oh! Of course we can leave this for Santa! What is your name? I’ll put it on the toy so he’ll know which one you want.”
Alex was thrilled. They continued chatting, the lady paying careful attention to what he said and seamlessly carrying on their conversation. She made him feel like such a hot shot; he turned to me, just beaming, when he was ready to leave. I thanked her as we left, hoping she realized how important this encounter truly was.
The next day, I returned to buy the toy gun, so that Santa can leave it under our tree with all the other cheerfully wrapped items.
While I was there, I asked who the lady was that helped Alex the previous night, and was told that it was the owner of the store. I plan to send her a note to thank her again for her kind service, but if you are local and still in need of some gifts for the holidays, please consider shopping her store.
It’s moments like these that remind me that the holiday spirit really is all around us, if we are willing to see it.
Anyone else feeling the pressure of the holidays? I just need to calm down and realize that if something doesn’t get done in time, to match my expectations, the world will go on. Cards might be late, and that’s ok. The packages might not get wrapped with custom made, fluffy bows, and that’s ok, too. The baking may not be as delicious as I want it to be, and that’s…well, let’s face it, that would be sad. Nobody wants burned Christmas cookies.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good amount of caffeine to get this all done in time.
The holidays: a busy time that is commonly accompanied by stress, chaos, and crankiness (that last one is typically caused by the other two). I am not immune to these; just this morning, I was running frantically from one errand to the next, determined to make the most of my “free time”, which was just an hour and 28 minutes this morning.
Dealing with the stress and chaos of preparing for my family’s holidays (Hanukkah and Christmas…our house is so festive this time of year!) definitely caused some crankiness for me this morning. I was tired of encountering rude people every where I went. I mean, seriously, would it kill people to smile and be pleasant to the tired cashier that is on the rough end of everyone’s bad moods?
Anyway, by the time I headed over to the kids’ school to volunteer at their Epcot Day event, I was in a fairly foul mood. In fact, I was so overwhelmed by the fact that I now have one week left before the kids are out of school (which means that my restricted free time will be completely nonexistent from 12/19-1/5…and that’s a long time!), that I was ready to give in and let myself be taken over by the Grinchy, bah-humbug spirit that creeps in every now and then. But, I plastered on a smile and marched in to the school, ready to help out with this truly great event for the kids.
Each December, the PTO puts on Epcot Day, during which the kids learn about our global community through presentations, crafts, and activities representative of that year’s countries. It is a huge undertaking, but the kids love it and it is really a great day. My job today was to help out at the Marketplace; each student is given two “dollars” to buy trinkets that cost one “dollar” each. There were several things from which to choose: pencils, erasers, keychains, worry dolls, nesting-type wooden dolls, ornaments, friendship bracelets. Every twenty minutes a new group of kids came through the gym, and the Marketplace was one of the activities.
I was amazed at how carefully the children shopped; each item was taken into careful consideration before a purchase was made. During my “shift”, the older kids came through first and were a bit more decisive, and much quieter about their choices. But, when the younger kids started to trickle through the gym, the process started to take a bit longer. I soon realized why that was so, as the younger kids were more willing to chat about their purchases.
One little boy chose an ornament, handed me his “dollar” and said “My mom will love this!” Another boy picked out a ring (made of tightly rolled paper, maybe?), and told me that it was for his mom, and that he would have to be careful to hide it from her so she wouldn’t find it before Christmas. One of my youngest son’s friends selected a little wooden doll, explaining that he chose it for his sister. Many dads will be the recipients of key chains and pencils, while grandmothers will receive handwritten notes on postcards chosen by their grandchildren.
I was blown away. These kids were given this “money”, with no expectations except that they could only choose two things from the Marketplace. They could have easily selected two souvenirs for themselves, but so many of them were thinking of others they could gift these trinkets to on Christmas morning. It was heartwarming, and definitely restored my holiday spirit on a day when I really needed it.
Grinchy attitudes, be gone. These young people need to have better examples to look up to so that their beautiful little holiday hearts won’t be crushed as they get older.
Holiday exhaustion is setting in. Here is just a snap shot into my thoughts this evening…
Jingles and his hijinks might be a little too convincing.
Before our Thanksgiving dinner is even digested tomorrow, my husband will be off to work to prepare for the 5pm open of his store. Many of his employees will also have to leave their families to join him at work.