It is all those little things

By Angela Shepherd - [email protected]

I don’t know about you, but Mondays don’t tend to be my cup of tea. It is always a little hard to get out of the restful state I was just getting into and get back to the grind.

So Monday mornings usually find me a bit foggy, and dragging myself out of the house to begin another week. But this Monday morning one little thing lit a bit of a happy fire.

Since it was rainy, but not quite chilly outside, I grabbed a lightweight jacket that I hadn’t wore for quite some time. When I put it on I noticed there was something stuffed into the right pocket. As I reached in there, I figured what I’d pull out would be some old crumpled grocery lists and the accompanying receipts (I find those things stuffed into everywhere). But, much to my delight and utter glee, what I found was $14.

While that is a small amount of money, I could not have had a more pleased reaction had I won 10 times that amount on one of the occasional lottery tickets I buy. That little find set the tone for that whole dreary day.

And I was thinking on my way to work that it is those little things that tend to lift our spirits and warm us the most.

Later on Monday all of The Times-Gazette staff gathered for an hour of food and fellowship for our Christmas party, uninterrupted in that short time by work things. It is always something very special to be able to come together with the work family and talk and laugh.

On Saturday, I gathered with my mother’s side of the family for Christmas.

When we were kids this was a given each holiday. But as grandparents have passed and bridges have become impassable between some, those of us who remain in this neck of the woods came together.

The adults did a gift exchange, one with complicated forward-backward rules. And the kids did one, too, but with only slightly less-complicated guidelines.

The really great thing is that the kids engaged in a long-ago tradition that their parents (me, my sister, and our cousins) grew up with. From teenager to toddler, they gathered around two card tables laden with gingerbread, icing, and every candy imaginable.

They built a barn, a house, and a tractor. And that was the best thing really, seeing all those heads bend over the task of decorating creations they would never eat.

As a child, I can’t recall a Christmas where we girls didn’t do the same thing at my aunt’s kitchen table.

And after eating, and decorating, and opening presents those kids went wild through the house with Nerf guns and Leroy the dog. It was chaos and madness, but there was such a sweetness with it all.

It was a little thing to get together with my family, the very ones who are in the bulk of my childhood memories. I had a great life as a kid, and these people were a very large part of that. All of our kids together making those memories on Saturday was something that really warmed the heart – a million little gifts came that night.

And I bet my grandma, too-long gone from this world, was there with us.

Since she passed we have only gotten together like this a handful of times — a couple Easters, a Fourth of July, other sporadic times — but this was our first Christmas shebang in more than 20 years.

I think we all felt that way, all of us adults anyway who could remember back to the years when this was what we did.

I know when I left for home Saturday night my nerves were singing a bit from all the chaos and noise, but I was smiling and could forget the jitters that too-much child clamor brings, because we were all together breathing new life into an old tradition that perhaps our children will carry on to their own kids someday.

On Sunday I made edible gifts, but not the usual amounts. This year I did much smaller batches because I was on my own. And when I finally finished up shortly after 11 p.m., I was thankful to be able to have completed what I set out to do, and will be glad to pass on the sweet fruits of my labor.

Last week I wrote about the stressful feelings of readying for the holidays, and even now when I am finding more little ends that need tied up before Friday, I am feeling lighter. It’s all those little things piling up, making me remember what this is all about, after all.

And that’s good. I think it is OK to not always be mindful of how sweet things are, because then when we are reminded, it is all the sweeter.

To one and all this Christmas, it is my wish that you know how truly blessed you are, no matter the hardships this year has brought. Tomorrow is always a new day, but don’t forget to live today first. And in this time of giving and celebration, don’t forget all the little things, the little gifts, that are the very fabric of life and the joy we have in living it.

Merry Christmas.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

By Angela Shepherd

[email protected]