Tangerines in My Stocking

Hello, and Happy December!

If you’re reading this in the USA I guess you’ve survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday!  Here in Australia neither holiday has taken on as yet, although the merchant community is trying their best to convince us to go shopping. For the most part, it’s business as usual, except for the fact that many of our schools ended last Friday for summer break. Come to think of it, this may be a different kind of ‘Black Friday’ for some parents, especially if they’re working!

We enjoyed watching the grand children sing their Christmas performances. But of course nothing the school could produce held a candle to our son Nathan’s annual Water Slide Party. It seems they have a larger than normal back yard with a pretty impressive slope down to the Crown Land forest. And oh yeah, the yard is pretty well de-nuded of every tree that used to flourish there, thanks in part to our gift of a chain saw awhile back. That may have been a mistake, but I suspect that it’s excellent therapy for a cop, so we haven’t complained.

December 1st also signals the first day of Summer, and it was a real scorcher!! The event was enjoyed by too many kids to count, mainly friends of Ezekiel, who coincidentally was also celebrating his 8th birthday. It was a great day, especially since there were no broken bones; and though new speed and distance records were set, no one made it all the way to the forest. Next year … be afraid.

Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving here, we do have Christmas, and the decorations, especially in the stores, have been up since before Halloween.  Along with the festivities comes the requisite guilt as everything and everyone pressures you to do better and spend more lavishly this year. And as I was pondering this, something triggered a memory from long ago.

It was the Christmas of 1991, we had been battling cancer with our son Trevor for about 6 months. He had nearly died several times, and we were pretty frazzled.

And then I came across an article that suggested asking your family members what really says “Christmas” to them. I realized that we didn’t really know, even within our family. Wanting this to be the best Christmas ever, one day I casually asked Trevor, “What is the one thing that says “Christmas” to you?

I expected him to respond by mentioning perhaps one of the more spectacular gifts we had given him in his scant 16 years; would it be the puppy, or the skis….. or maybe one of our memorable toy-laden Stateside Christmases with the relatives.

He answered immediately, as if this was the easiest question ever

(pardon the Japanese, but we were a family pretty mixed up in two languages), “Mikans in my stocking.  Yep, that’s Christmas for me!” he beamed.

I was stupefied.  Here was a kid whom I’d do almost anything for, especially now that he was sick, and he was happy with a tangerine in his stocking.  That was always what we grabbed out of the fruit basket year after year, always somewhat guiltily, to cover up the lack of great things we felt we should be putting in their stockings!

Sometimes it’s the little things, don’t you think?  The warmth of a smile or a hug …….. or knowing everything is OK because tangerines are still there. Who knew?

That was Trevor’s last Christmas.  You can believe that I had scoured the entire city of Denver to find a Japanese tangerine, and he had it in his stocking that Christmas morning.

Writing this makes me think of that great, albeit non-theological Christmas song,  “Little Drummer Boy”.  I don’t think Jesus wants us to go crazy trying to ‘find’ the Christmas Spirit. It’s not even important to do a doctoral study to try and determine exactly when Jesus was born, and what day of the year we should be celebrating.  He just wants us to remember the fact that He came and why. And then we are to turn that Love of God on others.  Gift giving, especially to the Savior, can give us more goose-bumps than receiving.

This morning in church we heard the testimony of a young man, Indian (from India), who was adopted at birth out of more tragic circumstances that we can imagine.  As he told of the love he felt in our church and how he was accepting Christ and being baptized because of the people who had given so much to him thru Jesus, it just made it all real for us.  Tangerines, for sure.

Have a happy, relaxed season thinking about what’s really real. If you have a chance, drop me a line and tell me what Christmas is to you, will you?

Till next week, Marsha

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