Happy Friday!!!! Two weeks without school equals two weeks home with my babies. The past couple of weeks have been so completely amazing....I'll go into greater detail about it later (excruciatingly detailed detail, I promise) but for now, let me say that I have been humbled beyond belief. For some reason, God or whoever is in charge has deemed me worthy of an amazing outpouring of love. For some reason, the people in my life have once again turned into Christmas angels and blessed the kids and I with love and gifts and FOOD and beautiful notes and did I mention love? I feel like freaking George Bailey, people. I've cried enough tears to fill dozens of wine boxes. And you know what the greatest gift has been? That once again my kids have seen the Christmas Spirit in the flesh. They've seen thick envelopes arrive in the mail, block letters on the front, notes inside telling us to hang on, things will get better, and most importantly...YOU ARE LOVED.
Don't get me wrong: gift cards ROCK. If it weren't for some anonymous (and some not so anonymous) friends and the gift cards they sent, my kids wouldn't have much under the tree. Before this tsunami of love washed over us, I had budgeted about $65 per kid for presents. And that was pushing it. Now? I have multiple presents for each of them...Charlie and Molly finally have some new clothes, Henry has the video game he's been pining for FOR MONTHS, William has a cool Minnesota Wild hat (and jersey, thank you Laura!!!) plus a totally kick ass Nerf gun that Mommy would have never been able to afford. These things? They are AWESOME. They are tangible, physical, touchable things that the kids can rip open and hold up and wear and play.
But...all of you secret santas, you Christmas angels, you anonymous elves..you have given my kids something that no money in this world could buy. You have, once again, in all of your infinite beauty and generosity, given my kids a gift that is the perfect size, it's the perfect color and it's exactly what they needed: You've shown them the good that is in this world.
I have four kids who have gone through a crappy time. Even though they've made it through with flying colors, they've sustained some damage. You can't see it on all of them, but it's there. Tiny, hairline fractures just below the surface...they've seen the underbelly of this world, they've seen bad things and sad things and things that kids shouldn't have to see. But the past couple of weeks? They've seen such amazing grace. Such giving, such unabashed love, and they've seen it up close.
I can thank you all from now until the end of time, and it wouldn't be enough. How can you thank someone for showing your kids something as golden and special as this? How on earth could I ever thank these people for materializing in front of my kids as the pure embodiment of the Christmas spirit?
Bottom line is, I can't. There aren't enough words, there aren't enough exclamation points, there aren't enough hugs. But please know...I am forever indebted to you and someday, somehow...I will pay it forward. There will be a day when I will be the one sending that fat envelope, I'll be the one leaving a bag of groceries on the front step, I'll be the one sending gifts in the mail to someone who needs it. And even more importantly? My kids will be there with me. What you've given them is priceless: you've given them the knowledge of what it feels like to be the ones receiving this love. And for that, I truly cannot thank you enough.
And now on with the Fill in the Blank stuff......
1. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to:see this time of year through a child's eyes. Forget about trying to be perfect, trying to make everything Martha Stewarty and Real Simply perfect, and just try to embrace this season for what it's really about. Once you start doing that, the cheer spreads like a freaking virus..
2. The things I love most about Christmas are:the little things. The pleasantries you exchange with a harried cashier at Target, the glow of Christmas trees that peek out from houses as you drive by at night, the kids who wear Santa hats to school. The news stories about strangers paying off layaway balances for struggling families. The feeling you get when you stuff a couple of dollar bills into a Salvation Army bell-ringer's bucket outside of your favorite grocery store. These little things that only happen during the weeks that lead up to Christmas Day.
3. The holiday season is a time for: new beginnings, hope rekindled and reinforcing the love you have for family and friends.
4. My favorite thing to eat at the holidays is: Candy canes. Honey baked ham. Iced sugar cookies. And did I mention candy canes? Our tree starts out with about 40 candy canes...by the time Christmas Day rolls around, you're lucky to find one or two hidden deep within the branches. Please ignore the crinkling of plastic wrappers coming from my pockets.
5. I will be spending Christmas:In my pajamas, with my kids. Listening to the boys fight over who gets to play their new game on the Xbox first, watching William play with his new shinny hockey set, watching seasons one and two of "That Seventies Show" with Molly. And eating ham. Lots of ham.
6. Tis better to (give or receive?):Oh my gawd. If you don't know my answer to this one, you must be a first timer here. To receive is to be blessed beyond your wildest dreams; to be able to give is that feeling times infinity. This year, I couldn't do the former if someone hadn't done the latter. Both are wonderful, and both are indescribable. I will say that this one is a tie. A sweet, sweet tie.
7. I'm dreaming of apeaceful, relaxing, rewarding, beautiful Christmas. And I know...dreams do come true.
I wish you all a happy, healthy, beautiful holiday, no matter what you celebrate. Love those around you, love those who are with you in spirit, love those far away from you. And know that your love is felt, and appreciated.
Merry Christmas, my friends. May God bless you and yours, and may you be truly lucky enough to feel the real reason for the season in your heart.
And if you are so inclined, please fill in your own blanks this Friday and link up to the lovely blog The Little Things We Do so others can see what this beautiful season means to you.