I realized yesterday that August really wasn't kidding when he had said (for the past two months again and again) he wanted a tow truck for Christmas. I felt so horrible that I had ignored him for the most part and, at one point, passively suggested that maybe Grandpa would get it for him, and then completely forgotten about it. Well, here was little August on the 23rd of December, with his heart completely set on a tow truck from Grandpa for Christmas. And what was I supposed to do about it? And even if I could get the tow truck, which I just felt so bad about because it was my fault that I didn't tell Grandpa, I hadn't gotten anything for the girls, so it would not just be one present I would need to buy, but three. And then out of the blue, and I mean the clear blue, this buddy of George's from high school says his dad, who runs some type of ministry, has some Target and Walmart gift cards for us and can we run by and pick them up? Uh, yeah, okay. I have a million stories like this lately! So off we go to Target for a gift for each of the children and even stocking stuffers! (And laundry detergent and ziploc bags etc, but that isn't nearly so Hallmark Hall of Fame is it?) But then this morning I went to Walmart and with much anxiety, carefully selected an affordable truck (I hadn't found that essential item at Target) along with the other things I had to have for the out of town guests we are having (hurray!). I felt so embarrassed as I purchased a few household items I needed and asked the lady to hold off ringing up the tow truck to make sure it could be covered by the gift card. Then the card wouldn't swipe, and I stood there, humiliated, as I waited for a manager to come to the checkout with the flashing light so I could use a gift card from people I have never met and an extra, and almost last, seven dollars from some blessed, nameless soul. I will tell you that when I got to my car, I cried. I know it was being tired too. But I just felt like the gift cards were this wonderful blessing to get gifts for the kids, but that maybe it was foolish to squander them that way when we would inevitably need things that could be gotten at Walmart again soon. And then what would we do? So there's this mix of gratitude and happiness that August is getting the ever important truck and doubt about the wisdom of valuing my five year old's fleeting happiness so much and fear of what I will do next time I need to go to Walmart (okay, so yeah, I don't actually shop at Walmart apart from being given a gift card, but you know what I mean), and embarrassment and stress and fatigue. Man, I was on the verge. Then, I get home and I'm trying to pull myself together, and I'm praying, and I'm making dessert for later (which flopped), and then George tells me to check our account because some friends just transferred money into it! The event of just this one day in our lives is a good picture of our year in fast forward. Emotions ran the gamut. We had abundance and then we ran out and then we had more than before. We cried and then we were knocked off our feet by the generosity and lovingkindness of God's people. All of this, and I was trying to prepare Christmas Eve dinner for nine, or, in terms of the year, all of this, and I was trying to raise three children without a home!
After Christmas Eve dinner (pork roast with apricot, cherry, and pecan stuffing, wilted spinach salad with bacon and balsamic vinaigrette, roasted sweet potatoes, and Sister Schubert rolls), all of which was purchased with gift cards to the grocery store, we came into the living room. We were all sort of hanging around when there was a loud knocking at the door, and when George went to get it, there was no one there. There was, however, a large pile of presents on the porch. Now, I have a vague recollection that there is a tradition that some of the folks in our church have of secretly leaving gifts on someone's doorstep on Christmas Eve, but I can't remember whose tradition it is. I am not sure if it is something that is generally known and that we will discover who our generous givers are, or if it is meant to be kept a secret. But I will not feel bad about not keeping what they gave us a secret. Well, first of all, there was wine and fruit and chocolate and candlesticks. So there you go! I have never owned any candlesticks! I am super excited! I have owned wine and fruit and chocolate, so I know that these are very good things, and I am super excited about them as well. But let me just tell you about the most perfect toy anyone could have thought of for my three children. I couldn't have even thought of it myself. Really. It is a barn/stable with a hinged roof that opens up so you can reach down in it to play. Inside, there are horses and dolls to ride on the horses and all kinds of darling accessories. It is perfect for Elspeth because she loves dollhouses. It is perfect for Amabel because she loves horses. And it is perfect for August because he loves farms and just got a tractor and some farm animals for his birthday this fall. I really had to pull myself together as I saw them pulling the horses and dolls out of the stable. It was such a precious gift, a really really nice gift, but also a really really insightful gift. I suppose it could have been that they didn't know how perfect it would be, but just had a really great idea that well suits all three of my children; and even if that is the case, I know that the Lord knew.
I tell you what, y'all, God is good. The people of God are faithful and loving. I will not forget this Christmas. Thank you. And I hope you will all have a glorious celebration of the coming of Christ and his gift to mankind.