Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)
TITLE: Love Lessons
By Shirley McClay
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I continued loading the dishwasher as I considered how to answer my twelve-year-old daughter. “Would you rather not get presents?”
She grinned and her chocolate eyes avoided mine. “No, but maybe we can do something for Him.”
“I think that’s a great idea. What were you thinking?” I joined her with a cup of green tea for me and a mug of hot chocolate for her.
“Maybe we can do something everyday that would make him happy.” Janelle opened her assignment notebook and picked up her pencil.
“I’m liking this so far.” I opened my laptop to work on an article that was due by the end of the day. The younger boys would be up soon and I would need to help them with their homeschool work.
“Maybe we could make a list of ideas.” She ran her fingers through brown curls and reached for her mug.
“I’ll tell you what… you finish your schoolwork and we will set up a schedule for the whole month of December.” I knew she would get her work done in record time.
“Cool.” She wrinkled her nose at the math problems in front of her and began writing.
Later that evening Dan and I sat in front of the fire as I showed him the list.
“It sounds like a big undertaking.”
“I figure even if we don’t accomplish all of it... well, it’s more than we would have done otherwise.”
“True. I’ll help however I can.” He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me close.
Twenty-three days into December and we had done very well. Sweets were baked and delivered to elderly care homes, our entire apartment building, and neighbors as well. Flowers were taken to children at the hospital; groceries were secretly delivered. Toys were collected from friends and fixed up for a local Children’s hospital; an elderly family’s home was spic and span; snow had been shoveled from a neighbors walk and driveway…. and so much more.
So much more, indeed. Janelle and I had never had such a close relationship. We spent most of the time together… hard work, giggles, tears. I knew that this would be a Christmas that I would always cherish.
Christmas was almost here. Janelle worked on something in her room that I wasn’t allowed to see... not uncommon at this time of year. One of the things I loved about Christmas was the anticipation of the surprises Christmas morning. It was Sunday though, and we were running behind… like usual.
“Janelle, hurry or you won’t have time for breakfast.” I poured syrup over my own pancakes and sat down with my coffee.
“Not hungry, Mom.” Her voice was muffled through the closed door.
“Ok, but no complaining during the meeting.” I took a sip of my coffee and burned my mouth.
“Oh, I wont.” Her voice held a hint of mystery that piqued my curiosity.
A couple of hours later, the pastor stood to close the meeting. He wasn’t closing it quite yet, however.
“A young lady approached me last week and asked to share something this morning. Janelle. Please come up here.” Janelle shot me a wobbly grin and joined the pastor.
I watched my little girl as she walked away from me and marveled at her poise and gracefulness. When had she changed from a child into this young beauty?
Janelle took the mike that was offered to her and I saw her hands tremble. Yet she lifted her chin and looked out at the faces before her.
“This is the best Christmas ever and it hasn’t even happened yet. My Mom and I have spent a whole month doing special things for Jesus ‘cause of it’s His birthday and not just a day for gifts for me. I realized something. Christmas is just a day to remind me of what it really should be all year long. I mean… why wait for Christmas day to do good things for Him. This month has been the coolest ever and Mom and I have loved Jesus by loving other people. And I’ve learned how much I love my mom by loving Jesus with her. Ummm... that’s coming out kinda confusing. But, anyway…” She shrugged and handed back the mike.
Yeah. Definitely my best Christmas ever.
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