On Christmas morning, I sent “Merry Christmas” texts to a bunch of people on my phone, (cards will be late this year) and autocorrect changed “merry” to “meet.” This afternoon, I realized that the autocorrect had something there. We did “meet Christmas” today. I’ll tell you about it.
It began with Donna at Rite Aid just a few days ago. While Tiara and Elise were shopping for their “secret sister” gifts, Luci and I ran in for a couple quick things. Donna was at the cash register.
She’s there all the time – a regular employee. And though she’s not an overly smiley person, she’s always friendly and always kind. Today she was both, but she wasn’t quite as up as usual. Turns out, she’s working on Christmas Day.
So Luci and I walked out to our car to wait for the others and thought, “let’s surprise Donna with something on Christmas this year.”
A simple comment, a simple idea.
But it started something big.
Soon we were thinking beyond Donna. “Let’s make cookies for all the Rite Aid employees.” “Let’s make goody bags for everyone who’s working on Christmas!”
So it began. We baked up two large batches of cookies. I raided my pantry to find the Costco-sized box of hot cocoa packets. We added miniature candy canes, then packaged it all up in red cellophane, tied it with ribbon, and added one of the pretty salt-dough ornaments we’d made.
It wasn’t expensive. It wasn’t “fancy.” But it was nice, a cocoa break, a thought, a treat to say “thank you for working today” and “Merry Christmas.” We added a few wrapped gifts… a couple scarves I had in my gift stash, a box of Lindt chocolates and a couple little things that were waiting to be gifted.
We ended up with 45 packages, then set out at 2pm on Christmas Day knowing that we’d stop at Rite Aid and anywhere else that was open in our town.
Bench outside a medical facility
Gas station by the car dealership.
Starbucks (attempt – they were closing)
IHOP (only one as they were closing)
7-11 Gas Station
Safeway (SOOOO FUN!)
Fire Department (all volunteer)
Hospital ER and one other department
7-11 Convenience Store
The girls were nervous at first. At the first stop, only Luci and I got out of the car to hand a goody bag to a man on a bench. He’s smile was just beautiful and I watched him look at the little package as I drove away. After just a couple stops, Arianna was excited.
“I love to see their reactions!” Though she didn’t want to get out of the car, she held the basket, handed things to her sisters, and began planning for next year. Earrings, candies… “We could do fund raisers to make more money to buy more gifts! We should have like 100 each to hand out.” She thinks big, my girl.
Luci and Elise did most of their deliveries alone.
“Can we do this next year?”
“How about Valentine’s Day? We could fill eggs at Easter!” They both love playing Santa.
In WaWa, they went in with 4 gifts. I saw an employee taking out trash by the gas pumps, so I drove around, opened up my window, and handed him a bag. Too fun. We’re cooking bombing people.
Elise left Wawa sad. There was one employee in the restaurant area that didn’t get a gift. She was embarrassed to go back in, so Luci and I went in with a soft little package – one of the wrapped scarves. We didn’t see her open it, but the smile was amazing.
I LOVE THIS. Why are we just thinking of it now?
Luci and Elise ran in alone into Safeway, but then I ran in to see if Starbucks mugs were on sale yet (yeah, it’s a weakness). As I walked in, I saw Luci up at the register. She realized that if she stood at the end, she’d always be interrupting, so she got in line with another wrapped scarf and waited her turn. The lady looked at her as she handed the little wrapped package over the counter.
“Who’s this from?” Luci stood there smiling, but didn’t say anything.
“Who’s this from??” The lady was shocked, but looked happy. Luci was having fun.
“Just from me and my family.” And Luci walked off as the lady opened it, and turned around to show all her coworkers and customers the scarf that “that little girl” gave her. What a beautiful moment.
At the all volunteer fire department, only one man was there to accept the stack of presents. There was a fire last night and the rest were sleeping.
The last gift went to a family who was working together at the tiny 7-11. We were sad to be done — we had such a great time.
On the drive home we recapped the hours, the faces, the reactions and how fun it was while brain storming ideas for next year. This was by far the best Christmas ever and it had nothing to do with anything we found under the tree. It was the joy of faces in our town, the excitement of what we discovered, and the new Christmas tradition that is so much bigger than gingerbread houses and Christmas trees.
In the evening as she was falling asleep, Elise and I talked about the day.
“This is what Christmas is all about.”
Funny how many conversations we’ve had about the true meaning and joy of Christmas. And though she got it, it’s the action that’s making it sink in. The joy of truly giving – and giving randomly and unexpectedly. These few hours taught more than a few dozen “mom talks” ever could.
So I learned something too. Time to get busy. Guess, “actions speak louder than words” in parenting too.