Apparently, Santa’s Elves Are Very Busy

because into my mailbox come the most unexpected surprises. Today, it was a card from JoV, all the way from Berkshire, England:

Included inside was a set of these darling Christmas Card Hanging Pegs, no longer than an inch, with which you can suspend your cards on the 3 meter gold cord:
Now my only dilemma is where to string them? Across the kitchen window, I think, or maybe down the staircase…
Be prepared for more posts around the blog-o-sphere as the Virtual Advent Blog Tour begins on the first of December, Persephone Secret Santas are revealed on December 15, and more packages as yet undiscovered are delivered by Santa’s sleigh.

In Which The Mundane are Made Spectacular By Silver

No books for me this year. I don’t think people would presume to know which books to buy me unless it’s those of you who read my blog. My husband doesn’t read, my mother relies on what I’ve passed on to her, my son likes fantasy and my father likes the Chicago Tribune. So, when it comes to buying books I’m on my own. No complaints, mind you, I’m always rather too well stocked.

What I did receive this year came in silver:

Can you tell what it is?

It’s a purse!  A purse! I love it!!

“But, it’s so small,” you might say. “What could you possibly carry around in that?

Well, duh, I can carry this:

It’s a lipstick! A lipstick! From Guerlain; I love it!!

The top flips open to reveal two mirrors (um, a bit more than I might want to see, but anyway) and then out comes the color:

So beautiful…

The last gift I received was a laptop, in red, but my husband is trying to set it up for me. From the looks of it, he’ll be busy for a while, so more on that later. When I write my first post in the living room instead of being crunched into the corner of the guest room with the kitties sniffing about.

Did you receive anything that thrills you?

These Are The Gifts of Christmas

Just as I opened a card last week and felt my heart sink into my toes, the exact opposite happened today. I opened this card just now and knew it was from a True Friend.

I know better by now than to look for love where it hasn’t been found; still I hoped. But, God gives us a double measure in some areas of our lives while others lie barren.

The gifts of Christmas are all around us, not always wrapped in paper and bows, but in a brilliant smile from a sales person. A song from the man ringing his bell before the Salvation Army bucket. A wave from the person you let cut in front of you during heavy traffic.

And, just the right words received on a card from a very special friend.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Advent Blog Tour: It’s All About The Orange. Sort Of.

My grandfather lived in Holland for as long as I can remember, and when he came to visit us in the States he would always bring us Dutch chocolate. There would be Droste pastilles, bittersweet and milk sharing sides of the same tablet, or chocolate oranges, which were our favorite.

My brother and I would smack the orange and eat as many pieces as we could before my mother put them away in the fridge, allowing us one or two slices a day. At least that way they lasted longer.

Those chocolate oranges weren’t available in Illinois in the 1960’s. They were a token of affection meant just for us from our grandfather, and they were extra special because of their rarity.

When he passed away, I made it part of my gift to always give my brother a chocolate orange at Christmas. I was excited when they were offered here, at the local Walgreens, and I’d buy it with the same joy and anticipation I’d felt toward the ‘fruit’ when I was a child.

One year, a few Christmases ago, my sister-in-law looked at me across the table. “Would you do me a favor?” she asked in her loud voice. “Wouldja quit buying your brother those stupid oranges? I put them in the freezer because he forgets about it, and then I throw them away. Every year.”

I sat looking at her, and I didn’t have a clue as to how I should respond. Eventually, I just congratulated myself for not crying, and nothing more was ever said about it.

But, every year, when my husband and I see the chocolate orange, he says, “Let’s buy one for Charlene.”  I can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to mention it, for one thing. But, I also no longer want to share what was special to me with someone who doesn’t appreciate it.

This year, I’ve decided that I’m going to buy a chocolate orange, in dark chocolate if I can find it, and I’m going to unwrap the  foil slowly. I’m going to remember my grandfather putting them in his suitcase, and carrying them all the way from Amsterdam to Chicago, just to give to my brother and I. I’m going to eat each slice one day at a time, as I used to do when I was six. I’m going to treasure the blend of chocolate and orange on my tongue, and not let any one rob my joy.

Because it’s easy to lose one’s joy. It’s easy to get discouraged, or sad, or lonely, or let down at Christmas. In fact, I suspect that’s one of the easiest times in the world that our joy can be stolen from us. But, let’s not allow that, shall we? Let’s not lose what we hold dear to hearts. Let’s treasure it, and keep it, and polish it up for the holidays. Let’s share it with others who will appreciate it like we do.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

Find more Advent posts all month long at the Virtual Advent Tour.