So Be Good For Goodness Sake!

As the Elf-dust settles

Mama Santa looks around.

It is time to debrief.  Ruminate.  Investigate.

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In this post I want to unveil the totally unique pile of gifts

that absolutely hit the mark.

It was hands down awesome and you’ll get some great ideas for next year,

but also —

I’ll be sharing the surprising smudge of coal at the bottom…

(Santa’s Secret Scroll & Why I Kicked it Under the Couch at 7 a.m.!)

The post-partum window

of Christmas-freshly-past

is the perfect time to get investigative.

In the aftermath of so much excitement and ‘getting’

the kids’ behavioral hotspots are hotter

(all the better for spotting my dear!)

and their growing edges are pressed to the grindstone,

as they rub up against each other all Christmas break.

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Let me just put on these infrared binocolars, which Brayden made for Daddy

and we shall indulge in a jolly little post-op expose…

First,

all the little things

that made my joy full this Christmas:

~~~

Toothpicks of Anticipation

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Leading into Christmas I noticed this growing display on Brayden’s shelf.

And a similar stockpile on Davie’s shelf.

A toothpick a day.

An interesting form of Advent.

Kind of gross, but evidence of how quick they are to treasure the littlest item

and turn all things into playthings.

I love that gifts come only twice a year around here,

and in the meantime imagination has to fill in the gaps.

(p.s. Brayden is not a female bowling champion.  That’s just another example of a treasure from the reuse centre!)

 ~~~

Halloween Candy Gingerbread Houses

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The only good use that I have found for Halloween candy is to save it up for Christmas:

Gingerbread house decorating!

Win win!  

It all becomes largely inedible (though it’s one of our Advent traditions to let them eat one candy each evening)

and I don’t have to buy more decorating candies.

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Even better,

this year their adult cousins came over to be the project managers

while Tom and I had a nap 🙂

~~~

Walnut Prayer Boats

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This year on Christmas Eve both Tom’s folks were in the hospital fighting a vicious flu.

Lots of caregiving and prayer in place of our usual get togethers.

In the midst of the emergency we came together in new ways —

like lighting our annual walnut boat candles and floating them at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in a spirit of vigil and prayer.

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And precious moments like Uncle Byron falling in love with baby Nolan!

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We got the best Christmas present of all on Christmas day when Papa Jobb was released from critical care / quarantine and returned home.

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I love how our eyes can smile, even when our mouths are hidden 🙂

 ~~~

The Glories of Christmas Morn!

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From my own personal inner-Santa point of view,

it was a HUGE success!

Wonder, delight,

satisfaction without frenzy.

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A week later they have still barely started playing with their booty.

They are in a beautiful slow-motion with it all

(the few lego sets from family are still in various states of unopenedness and incompleteness,

as they just keep playing with the big castle, a $50 score on kijiji)

I actually could have gotten away with giving them a LOT LESS than I did.

(Note to self for next year!)

Here’s a few of the more unique gifts under our tree:

~~~

The Kids’ Homemade Gifts

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What a highlight it was to see the spontaneous effort the kids put into creating gifts for each other!!

Brayden’s gift to Madelyn: a furnished home for her gnomes.

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Madelyn’s gift to Brayden: a shooting range for his nerf gun.

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Brayden’s gift to Dad: these adorable little cork soldiers.  Completely his own idea.

Love them!!

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~~~

Mrs. Claus’ Hot Chocolate

One of my last minute ideas:

I found this 4 piece set of adorable home-made pottery at Value Village for $4

and I filled the mugs with hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, and candy cane bits.

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The note accompanying it was a special message from Mrs. Claus.

We followed her instructions: just add hot milk!

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The kids were spellbound with this gift

and so honoured to receive something from Mrs Claus!

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In past years I have given similar things like 4 little cups and an old fashioned bottle of rootbeer to share.

Or 3 old fashioned ice cream sundae cups (filled with beautiful marbles for decoration)

Interactive, delicious, memorable, inexpensive, and very useful all year long!

~~~

The One-Armed Nutcracker

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This guy pretty much takes the cake.

Who can fathom Santa’s ways?!

I mean, who would give a scuffed and broken, dangerously finger-crunching old nutcracker from the Reuse Centre as a Christmas gift??

Well, just add a note from Santa bestowing great honour on this faithful nutcracker for his years of service

as Santa’s own personal nutcracker, now entrusted to the Jobb children…

and jaws drop like so

:O

Actually, this little piece of magic became the impetus for a whole universe of play —

The one-armed villian, firing walnuts in his catapult, starred in an epic plot of revenge.

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Santa captured, the elves turned to squirrels,

snowmen bodyguards, and baby-toy booby traps.

It went on for days!

~~~

Mother Mary Elephant

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I have to say I was particularly thrilled with Santa’s gifts to “Madelyn & Gigi” (myself!)

Feigning surprise and fanning the mystery I inquired

what did the kids see in this ‘abstract’ painting?

Maddy saw a pregnant woman holding her tummy.  Can you see it?

I love this splash of colour for my wall, which was wrapped

in the vibrant rainbow woven rug

(that I have always wanted, from Coombs Market, $15)

Thank you Santa!

~~~

Blank Books & an Oversize Vest

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This shot captures a moment I will cherish forever.

My Brayden was giddy with delight, eyes shining, bouncing on the yoga ball, licking his organic lolly, raving about everything

and sporting his new fishing vest,

which I picked up a couple years ago at a garage sale for $4 and have been waiting for him to grow into!

It is still massive on him, but he LOVED it and immediately donned it as a multi-pocketed mantle of awesomeness.

In the background Davis is flipping through and studying

every single page of the blank notepad he got in his stocking.

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He then flipped through every page of this eensy weensy oh-so-sweet blank book

that Santa brought for the gnomes!

Over the last week since Christmas Davis has nonchalantly mentioned once or twice,

“I didn’t get very many presents.”

But it does not even occur to him to complain about this;

it is simply an observation.

Brayden also was denied his Lego request, but is the happiest I’ve seen him in ages.

I have a theory about this.

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In short, this Santa can get away with giving ANYTHING.

Nolan’s new rattle is a $1.00 wooden eggbeater from a thrift store, sanitized & polished with beeswax.

Just wrap it in fabric and the enchantment factor wins every time.

Brayden — who is turning 9 — squealed with sheer delight when he opened up

1 little (used) hot wheels car which I got at the Antique Mall for $1.00!

What is the secret to all this Magic??

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And Now for the Real Gift Opening: 

The real gift for me

was the unveiling of these kids’ hearts (and mine!)

A funny thing happened on the way to Christmas morning.

I will let you know that December 24th was a slop bucket of bad attitudes

and behind-the-scenes bickering.

Which prompted me to send them all out to stack wood.

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And which prompted Santa to write a letter…

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wherein he chastised,

“there has been a perplexing din of nitter-natter cantankerousness of late.”

The scroll was accompanied by 3 wooden coins and a promise

that the wooden coins would turn to gold when the kids’ hearts turned back to gold.

It seemed like a brilliant plan at the time

but all of Christmas night I did not have my usual peace or bubbling-over joy.

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Until I found myself on my knees.

Praying.

The words that kept rising up in my heart:

“No Magic Santa can fix this.  Only the Magic Christmas Baby.”

With wholehearted vigor I held up each of my kids to God —

“please meet their invisible needs that I cannot even see

and shift them.  Shift us all.  May we be changed.”

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At 7 a.m. I was the only one awake —

and I suddenly saw it.

I saw what was really going on between Brayden and Davis and I knew what to do.

I quickly rose, stealthily switched around some gift tags,

and kicked Santa’s Scroll under the couch

because I could feel in my bones that it was the wrong message —

it was unnecessary, and slightly shaming.

In fact, it hurt my heart just imagining them reading it.

~~~

The 4 Big Things I Learned…

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~~~

1.  There’s a difference between Fair and Right.

Davis (4) has been jealous of Bray (8),

and to fix things I was going to over-gift Davis to help him catch up,

which would have been “fair” but wrong.

Instead, I pulled two special gifts away from Dave and over to Bray at the last minute.

I strongly felt the need to honour Brayden as an individual,

not always make things fair and equal.

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~~~

2.  What my dear Brayden desparately needed this Christmas was The Magic Treatment

and it hit the bullseye!

Since leaving the Waldorf school and attending a school that does not nurture that sense of wonder

he has been amassing a deficit inside.

It did not matter the slightest bit what the presents even were;

it was ALL about the sense of wonder

that comes with my magical delivery style.

Santa is very, very, very Real.

Magic is Alive.

All is well.

Brayden was practically levitating with joy.

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~~~

3.  The difference between rescuing, meddling, and state-of-the-art Parenting 

I got a reminder of how this beautiful art form — what I call Navigating by Starlight — really works.

Parenting with heavenly help makes all the difference.

A letter from Santa that lumped all the kids together as one

and chastised them, “just be good for goodness sake”

would have been exactly the wrong thing to do.

Getting down on my knees and groaning for Answers —

brought layer upon layer of true magic, flooding the scene,

bringing Joy to Our Little World.

The bickering and jealousy have just stopped.

Miraculously.

(For now!)

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~~~

4.  An intimate taste of “For God So Loved the World.”

As I stood at Brayden’s closed door on Christmas Eve

I heard the scurry and scrape of Lego bricks in upheavel

and the open-shut thudding of dresser drawers.

When I got the chance to look inside

I began to weep.

He had cleaned his room, picked up all the clothes, and cleared a wide open space on his Lego table….

in anticipation of his big new Lego set,

which I knew Santa would not be bringing.

I bawled.

Because he is so deserving.

And it isn’t always easy — these austerity measures, this magic minimalism.

I had the sad and sudden urge to run to a 24 hour Walmart and buy Big Stuff.

Compelled by love!

That’s why people do it, right?

It was the tiniest inkling of

what God must have felt,

looking in on human hearts full of dreams and desires.

Precious, beautiful, wide open hearts that had been cleared — waiting, hoping, wanting Him.

How he must have longed to rush in with full lavishness, overflowing,

and meet every need.

And what did the God of the Universe do?

A perfect act of ever so humble

‘magical underwhelm.’

I resonate with this God

who is so profoundly creative

at wrapping his gifts.

~~~

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2 comments

What a wonderful Christmas story, which melds the original of 2000+ years ago with that of today, and shows a path to a family Christmas experience that is all about nurturing one another. God gave us these precious treasures called children and it’s our honour and privilege to underwhelm them with stuff, while overwhelming them with a few loving, thoughtful, creative tools for innovative play. Bravo for seeking and listening to His divine intervention in your – I mean Santa’s – thoughts.

Hello Dear Ginette,

I snuck a few moments of my full, full day to delve into the magic of your writings, the magic of your heart. I was moved to tears by your courage, your honesty, your willingness to let go, to trust and to surrender again and again. I am so very proud of you and your vision for the world. I love your creative endeavours. You are so precious.

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