A Note to Self: The Wish List

Note to self:

Please, for the sake of your own sanity, ask the kids for their Christmas wish list in November.  Preferably before the day you go shopping.

Sincerely,
A Tired Santa

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photo5Every year it’s something.  At two it was a Spider Man ball and at three, a skateboard.  Last year it was a scarf.  This year, we got a handwritten list the last week of school.  As in this week.  As in after Santa has completely finished all the shopping.

And every year Santa manages to pull it off.  Barely.  The tiny finger skateboard instead of the full size one she was expecting didn’t go over so well, but it happened at least.  Rose’s in the Plaza turned out to be a great place to get a scarf on Christmas Eve….while she waited in the car.  This year the list has been a bit more challenging.  Here’s the rundown:

1.  Spider Girl Costume:  So, who knew there even was a Spider Girl anyway?  Chica, apparently.   I considered making one.  For about 17 seconds.  Ha.  Hahahahaha.  I owe all my thanks to Jay and Amazon for this one.

2.  Rainbow Dash:  The list says, “Pegasus.”  I sure hope this is the same thing as Rainbow Dash…??  Anyway, during one of our stops at Michael’s over the last month, Chica spotted a stuffed version of her most favorite pony.  Despite multiple methods of coercion from her (begging, whining, shaming, etc.), we didn’t walk away from the store with this toy.  Thankfully she has a gracious Nana who was willing to go back to the store and rescue Rainbow Dash this week.

3.  Wishbone:  Seriously?  Where does she get this stuff?  She wants a real wishbone.  Like from a turkey.  This week we happened to buy a whole chicken already cooked from Fresh Market when my mom was here visiting.  When I saw the list, I thought I had the wishbone covered.  Welllll, Jay never saw the list.  So, while fixing leftovers one evening, he called her in the kitchen to offer her the wishbone.  They broke it together, and she  made a wish.  Still not sure whether I can count this list item as covered.  We’ll see.

4.  Elements of Harmony:  Definitely didn’t know what this was.  Her first couple of attempts to explain it to me were rather vague too.  So, like any other clueless Santa, I took to Google.   Turns out the Elements of Harmony is some sort of book of necklaces from My Little Pony that contain magical powers.  There are six different elements, each with a different color and symbol.  Amazon failed me on this one…this is not something I could buy.  (Second note to self…I need to pitch this idea to some toy maker and get rich so that next Christmas I can afford a personal shopper to pull off this increasingly difficult Santa stuff.  Errr…I digress.)

So I realize full well that at some point Santa can’t pull off every wish that will be on the list.  But my wheels started turning, and Nana’s wheels started turning, and we knew Rachel would be here soon to help.  We decided to just make the crazy thing.

I’m not going for a Pinterest-worthy how-to post, but in case you ever need to pull off a similar stunt, here’s how we did it:

1.  Pour a glass of wine.  Or in our case, three glasses.  Put the extra in the downstairs refrigerator because you’ll probably need it.
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2.  Gather the materials:  A box disguised as a book, fake jewels, Velcro, scrapbook paper, scissors, ribbon, felt, glue, paintbrush, etc.
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3.  Get your husband to use fingernail polish remover to rub the shiny finish off the back of the jewels while he watches football.  He won’t fuss as much about having to participate if he’s distracted by the game and manly conversation.
4.  Get your mother-in-law to search her amazingly huge collection of scrapbook papers for the necessary shapes:  star, diamond, lightning bolt, balloon, butterfly, and apple.  Be prepared, however, that even if she has 1,290,387 pieces of paper, you may still have to draw a few freehanded.
5.  Get your sister-in-law to cut out the shapes and modge podge them to the back of the jewels.
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6.  While they do the hard parts, you can work on creating the necklace from felt and ribbon.  You can also line the box with more cool paper from her huge collection.  Then you can do the dangerous part of hot gluing the Velcro to the jewels and the box.  Be prepared to get burned.  It’s obligatory when using a hot glue gun.
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7.  Remind yourself many times that, in spite of how much fun you’ve had creating this one of a kind gift, your five year old may open the box and immediately pick up on one important fact:  the real Elements of Harmony have 6 necklaces and hers has one with interchangeable jewels.  Be prepared for the worst reaction, and then you can be happily surprised if she loves it.
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8.  Be sure to hide all of the evidence of your late night craftiness.  This includes deleting the pictures from your iPad after you blog about it!

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SO excited about Christmas morning now.  I know that the gifts are not what it’s all about, but I just can’t wait to see her reaction.  I know that there is this small window in her little life where the magic is still very real.  I plan to enjoy that with her as long as I can.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh…and Lynchburg friends…

I’ve still got one more thing to check off the list so that Santa can be 4 for 4.  Anybody cooking a turkey before Christmas?  : )

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On Gifts and the Giver

Last week it was Jesus the Baby.

This morning at church it was Jesus the King.

Tonight it’s Jesus the Gift.

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IMG_1646If you’re getting a gift from me this Christmas, I’ll go ahead and tell you where it is.  If you’re one of my kids, it’s under the bed.  If you’re anybody else, it’s in one of those bags along the wall of my bedroom, in the same place I dropped it when I came home from my marathon shopping day on Black Friday.  I had great visions of wrapping everything that night or that weekend and putting them under my tree to admire for the month of December.  Well….exhaustion and a stack of ungraded papers and Facebook and previously aired episodes of the Voice overtook me.  So there they still sit, and I’m sure they’ll be there until school is out for Christmas break.  And one night, with the help of a glass (or two) of wine and more episodes of the Voice, I’ll get it done.

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One day this week while driving to school I heard the song, ”What a Glorious Night,” by Sidewalk Prophets.  It left me thinking about that night.  The night.

“I hear the angels singing, hallelujah.  Let the earth receive her king.”

I couldn’t help but think that the earth didn’t know what a gift they were getting on that night.  God knew, the angels knew, and Mary had some small understanding.  But God chose such a quiet way for our Savior to enter the world.  It was a glorious night, but no one around them knew just how glorious yet.

All of this left me thinking about God, the Gift Giver.  As much as I hate the wrapping, I am eagerly awaiting my night to be gift giver.  I’ve picked out things that I know my kids will like.  I can’t wait to see Chica’s reaction to both the things she asked for as well as the things she didn’t know she wanted.  Bubba…well, he doesn’t know to want and ask yet, but I anticipate he’ll be just as excited, if not more.

So I imagine that God had some of those same anticipations as the Gift Giver that night.  He knew that the Gift he had picked out was exactly what we needed.  It was exactly what we wanted (a savior, a king), but the form it took was unlike anyone had expected.  So as the earth slept, he delivered the Best Gift and waited for us to discover it.  Some days, most days, I feel like I’m still discovering it, still unwrapping it.

“I know that love has come.  Singing it out:  Jesus Christ is born!”

Just like the shepherds, I’m amazed.  Just like the shepherds, don’t let me hide it.

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So one more thought about the gift and the giver.  Can I just confess that a small part of my joy as a gift giver is the price at which I find my gifts?  I start my Black Friday shopping with a fairly tight budget, and I mostly stick to it.  I found Chica’s one “big present” this year at Ollie’s for $10.  Woo-hooo!  And Jay snagged Bubba’s during Cyber Monday on some fluke, two hour deal.  As much as I know this really isn’t the point, it sure has made the giving sweeter for me.

But what about The Gift Giver?  I keep rolling over and over the idea tonight that his gift was at full price.  The biggest price.  I wonder if his joy that night was also mixed with tiny pangs of sadness as he knew just how much it would cost him in the end.

Let the earth receive her King.  I eagerly await that glorious night.

Oh, what a glorious night.

 

Baby Jesus Has Been Sleeping in Bubba’s Bed

For some reason this morning, Bubba and I found ourselves curled up in the kitchen on a stepstool together.  In a rare moment of mommy nostalgia, he was letting me hold him like a baby.  I sush-ed him and rocked him and cooed, “Ni-night Baby Bubba.  Close your eyes.”  He would pretend to be asleep, I would surprise him awake, and he would laugh.  A lot.

As always goes with toddler games, I was done way before he was.  I wondered if he might keep playing with a baby of his own, so I fished one out of the bottom of Chica’s closet.  It was naked, of course. Chica apparently doesn’t believe in doll clothes.  I swaddled it tightly, surprised a bit that I hadn’t lost my touch.  Maybe it’s like riding a bike.

Bubba sush-ed the baby and rocked it and unwrapped it.  He wasn’t satisfied with a naked baby, so we had to find it a diaper.  I showed him how to hold a hand under its head so that he wouldn’t drop it…again.  By the time Jay came upstairs to fix us lunch, the baby had become Baby Jesus, and Bubba was kissing him goodnight, laying him in Bubba’s own bed.  (The baby started out as a girl.  There was a bit of pronoun mix-up at first.  Daddy was very confused.  I just rolled with it.)

IMG_1613So Bubba has spent the rest of his afternoon taking care of Baby Jesus.  Baby Jesus drank at least 27 bottles of “baby juice” and ate pretzels, but he didn’t really care much for the dried mango he was offered.  He listened to Bubba sing songs, looked out the window, sat with us while we did crafts, watched a Mickey Mouse show, and took a few more naps.  He has had at least two dirty diapers (which we conveniently have to change each time), and he as cried often.  Just now Bubba tried pushing Baby Jesus in the stroller to see if this would help.  I think it did, until he fell out and got rolled over.  He’s on bottle 28 now.  Juice makes everything better.

One of the songs we sang Baby Jesus this afternoon was Away in a Manger.  Daddy doesn’t do anything related to music halfway, so we of course began the second verse:

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

I couldn’t help myself.  It was as if, for the first time, I finally heard what the words really said.  I interrupted so delicately…

“What a load of crock!  ‘No crying he makes?’  He was a real baby.  Of course he cried!  He woke up, he was hungry, and he cried.  What was that person thinking?”

As Baby Jesus has spent this icy day with us, I’ve thought more and more about the humanity of this perfect miracle.  Like the author of this carol, we like to think about a glowing, swaddled bundle lying peacefully in a bed of straw.  But do you think it was just like that?  I think that he had his fair share of projectile vomiting, that Joseph walked laps around the stable while sush-ing him, Mary learned the hard way about a baby boy’s natural reaction to cool air, and she was likely miserable while figuring out how to nurse him.  And of course he cried.

Isn’t it amazing?  I’m still contemplating today what kind of love God has for us that he chose this way.  There were so many other ways he could have chosen to send our Savior, but he chose a baby.  A baby that was miraculously and mysteriously 100% human and 100% divine, at the same time.  So unexpected.  So humbling.

Come, Baby Jesus.  Come with your crying and your dirty diapers and your middle of the night feedings.  Come to our mangers and to our hearts.  Come with your life-changing miracles and your forgiveness and your love for the unlovely.  Come quickly.