A Little Christmas Sparkle
Twelve Days of Giving
article by Cindy G. Foust
”Sleigh bells ring are you listening
In the lane snow is glistening
A beautiful sight oh we’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland”
A wonderland of what? Rain? Mud? Fog? Humidity? It’s the holidays for crying out loud and I feel like we are in a Lagniappe Depression (this is very similar to a tropical depression, only we don’t live in the tropics). Anyway, the holidays are here once again and the frantic, crazy insanity will soon seep into the pores of most every home in the BayouLife nation. For the last few years, I have written about slowing down the pace during the holidays. You know, stopping to smell the cocoa (rhyming is just something I do). But who am I kidding? I’m just as guilty as the next person with my hurrying and scurrying. During this time of year, when we should be feeling the “warm glow” we instead do nothing but go, go, go (I know, I have a problem.) In this mix of madness are my 17 and 10-year-old children who probably stand around wondering every year what mania has descended upon our house.
Whether we are ready for it or not, however, the Christmas Tsunami is on its way and many of us will not likely feel any relief until the day after Christmas, when we are sitting around looking for a Weight Watcher’s coupon watching the Hallmark Channel. Sound familiar? Except, this year, for my family, things will be a little different. We will be working to keep things as jovial as possible as we try to navigate the holidays without one of our beloved family members.
Many traditions that we have established and enjoyed for many years, well, all of my life actually, will be different. For my kids, these traditions are the very things they look forward to the most, especially during Christmas. As I sit on my patio this humid, foggy morning, with Christmas music playing in the background, and do what I love to do most, write, I got to thinking about Bitsy and how I wish she was still here. She loved the holidays and her family being in and out of her home was her favorite part. My sister was very diligent in going by and having coffee with her quite often, and she loved more than anything just having someone to visit with and talk about everybody who wasn’t there (that’s what my dad says people do when they congregate.) Yes, another lesson in the simplicity of life, and how the smallest of efforts mean the most to people. A cup of coffee and a few hours to sit and talk with someone costs us nothing. Well, except our time, which seems to be our most valuable commodity.
With these very thoughts in mind this month, I decided to write for, or rather to, our BayouLife parents. Most months I do what I can to bring awareness to issues that every home faces. Sometimes it’s light, and I find myself making fun of my apparent deficiencies in the parenting department. Some months it’s a little heavier, especially this year. But this month, no this month it’s about something that we can all use a reminder about, no matter our age or station in life, and that’s giving.
I’m sure most of us can look at your year-end financial statements and see that we all “give” plenty. But I’m not talking about writing a check, although, that is certainly admirable. I’m talking about giving someone your time, your thoughts, your efforts. Now, don’t any of you get a brief moment of inspiration and think running by and seeing a long lost aunt for 20 minutes is what I’m talking about. No, readers, I am asking you to dig a little deeper this year. I’m asking you to sit down with your family and think of someone you all know and love, perhaps someone who has been through a hard time this year, or is currently going through a loss in their life. Think of someone who could use a little Christmas sparkle, a little Christmas magic maybe (and for any dads out there currently rolling their eyes, I have but two words for you…Bah Humbug!)
After you settle in on this person, or perhaps this family, pull out a piece of paper and as a family, decide on 12 small gifts or cards that you can deliver to them during the holiday season. That’s right, you heard it here first…it’s the 12 Days of Giving. This is totally one of the coolest things I have ever read. The whole idea is to be “anonymous” with your efforts, which will make this sort of Christmas covert military operation so appealing to your children. Think of the fun your family will have when you set out to deliver your gifts, on the sly, to your merry recipient. It’s kind of like the Pink Panther Elf, except you aren’t stealing, you are giving! What sort of things can you give might be your next question? First, don’t over complicate this…it’s the age old “it’s the thought that counts” mentality. Well, unless some of you want to do this for me and in that case, I would love a new car.
Seriously, on the first day, just write a simple note letting them know you are thinking of them during the holidays and leave an ornament. Let your kids get creative with the process. A trip to the Dollar Store usually scores some treasures! Homemade treats are always a favorite, unless you are my friend, Melanie, and then I sure hope her merry recipient likes chicken nuggets! Some other cool ideas might be a holiday movie, gift cards, or even a homemade certificate that offers to mow their grass or bring them dinner. Each day be sure to leave a little note of encouragement and let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them during the holiday season. Whatever you do, make this a family project and really emphasize how important it is to give of our time and resources to others, particularly when those we love are experiencing a difficult season in their life. The holidays, even with all the glam and lights and decorations, can still be a time of sadness and hurt. Seize this opportunity to warm someone’s home or their heart with the gift of giving. It’s a chance to prove to your young, impressionable children (or your Grinch-like husband) why this is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the wonderful community who invite us into your homes each month. It is a distinct pleasure and privilege to be part of the BayouLife community.