"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
~Laura Ingalls WilderIn my family, we have two sayings that must be abided by at all times. The first is, "If an otter can't have fun doing something, it simply won't do it," and the second is, "A gift is the choice of the giver." These mentalities have served us well in getting through the tough times and celebrating the good times. They serve as a good reminder that everything is a gift, and you can have fun doing virtually anything. Even when that fun sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
It's December 16th, and the holiday spirit is in the air. The tree is up, the Christmas gifts are neatly stacked under it, cookies and tea with the neighbors, and Matches, the cat, is trying to bite the head off of baby Jesus in the manger scene. And finally, the time to reflect on what the holidays are really about. It is a time to remember those holiday traditions you really miss, create new ones, and learn from those that should never have been introduced.
I will never forget the Christmas my darling mother decided to enter our house in the city's holiday light contest. It was just the three of us, my brother, my mom, and I. I couldn't have been much older than 5 and my mother was looking for a way to get us in the holiday spirit. She decorated our house proudly, my brother helped, and I acted as the "artistic consultant." Together we made our house look beautiful. It didn't matter that it was cold, that we perhaps couldn't feel our toes, or even that we really didn't know exactly what we were doing. We were creating memories.
Then came the night when the official judges were scheduled to come look at our display. I remember being anxious and very sure we were going to win first place. I was very proud of the work we put in to sharing the holiday spirit. Startled by a knock at the door, my heart raced. My mother answered and the judges said, "You can turn on your holdiay lights, now." After a brief awkward silence, my mother said, "They are on....."
Moments later, the judges returned. Did they come back to tell us how badly we'd lost? No, in fact the came to tell us we'd won 3rd place. The prize? A gift certificate to the local funeral home.
Needless to say, "if an otter can't have fun doing something, it simply won't do it," and "the gift is the choice of the giver."