So, there definitely have been mishaps along our Manders Family “Countdown to Christmas” journey. 17 days, and counting! You read about some of the early ones in \”Real Family, Real Life\”. But among the holiday melt-downs and break-downs, there have been “good things”, or shall we call them “good tidings”?
Day #10 – I was going to take the kids on our “Penny Walk” at North Park mall, but after a rough morning with MJ (talking back – our most common problem these days), the walk got canceled, much to his dismay. Instead, we went to play outside at the Dallas Arboretum, and all went well. It was a beautiful day to be outside, and the fresh air was refreshing for all of us! (Saved our mall-walk for a rainy day, anyway.) We behaved very nicely as we viewed the beautiful fairy-tale decorations in the Degolyer House, we ran and explored the castles and story-book houses, we enjoyed some hot chocolate together until it spilled all over Mommy, and we discovered the new “Red Oak Rill” area. As I heard the sound of the waterfall, I closed my eyes and imagined the time when I had come with newborn MJ to the Arboretum…. I sat peacefully in a beautiful spot to read while he napped – ahhhh, those days are long gone! Now I was trying to keep Ellie from falling off the stone walls, and MJ from swimming in the creek. (Note to self: come back by myself sometime to enjoy this beautiful place in a different way!)
Day #5 – A canceled evening meeting for Mommy – now that is definitely a tiding of great joy at this time of year! For family play, our innovative children (never afraid of making a mess), discovered that the “snow” from the little winter village scene could be turned into “cotton candy” by rubbing blue and pink chalk dust all over it. They worked hard and well together to make their cotton candy stand a success, eagerly selling bites to me and Daddy. They helped to vacuum afterwards, and our village now has clear sidewalks for all the little porcelain people!
Day #7 – Finally, the day to decorate our tree as a family! (We’d been waiting until Daddy
passed his oral board exams on the day before. Now he’s a board-certified OB/Gyn, and will no longer have to run his practice from our garage ;)) But once again, as so often happens around 6:00, we realized (as indicated by the children’s misbehavior) that bed-time would have to come sooner than later. They had to settle for decorating their trees, which they were very excited about! We decorated our tree in spurts the next day. (You can tell it was a team effort! This one definitely wouldn’t qualify for Better Homes and Gardens.)
Day #11 -The kids enjoyed baking Snickerdoodles with Daddy for their teachers, and Mommy enjoyed a break… and some dough after the kids were in bed.
Day #12 – The morning’s clue led the children to a table with empty Christmas cards, stickers, pens and crayons. They have enjoyed writing cards to their teachers and friends all week! (MJ also had to use one to write “I’m sorry Miss Emily” after I heard about his talking back to the babysitter. Somebody please give this kid a big company to run for Christmas so he’ll stop trying to boss the rest of us around!)
Day #13 – The kids’ clue led them to little wrapping paper rolls in their stockings, and they had fun wrapping a few presents, including new underwear and socks for Daddy – Sh!
Day #14 – After rest-time, the kids follow the clue to a little Rudolph basket holding unopened Christmas cards. I show them the ribbons I’ve hung, along with the little clothespins for them to hang and display the pictures and cards. We have fun seeing lots of great pics of family and friends, and Mommy is now feeling a little sad about NOT sending out cards this year. Oh well, I’ll give myself a break, remembering that Mary never sent cards either!
Day #15 – Our re-scheduled “Penny Walk”, no-shopping trip to the mall fell on a cold, rainy day – perfect! Some good friends joined us as we dropped our pennies in all the red Salvation Army buckets, listening for the ringing bells along the way. We did our walk in honor of Mimi, my grandmother who passed away in June. Upon telling the children of her death, my dad handed down to them their “inheritance” – ziplock baggies full of pennies that she’d had on hand from her days playing penny poker at the retirement home. We all agreed she’d want the kids to have them, and their tears quickly turned to squeels of joy! Our annual “Penny Walk” seemed like the perfect way to remember Mimi over the holidays, Ellie wearing the “party” dress that Mimi gave her last Christmas. And we agreed that we’ll now do the walk in memory of her every year. We are really missing her. I told the kids she would have been so proud and happy about how they were so generously sharing her pennies! MJ asked how she would know, and I said that maybe her spirit knows, and we are keeping her spirit alive by thinking of her in our hearts. I also told the children that they were really setting a good example for the grown-ups at the mall. People couldn’t help but notice the the four little children joyfully putting handfuls of pennies in the pots, dropping change on the floor and sitting down to re-collect it, then walking right past the toy store windows on their way to the next bucket. And the Salvation Army volunteers were delighted to hear that that was the sole purpose for our mall visit. They happily let the kids take turns ringing the bells. Though I honestly never saw anyone else slowing down to give money, I’m hopeful that the kids inspired a few adults to do the right thing, in the “Spirit of Christmas” or for the “Spirit” of someone they loved.