For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Christmas Warm Fuzzies

On my high school alumni board, my friend Jessica mentioned that she loves Christmas, and she mentioned the warm fuzzy feelings she gets about Christmas. It took some time, but I picked a few warm fuzzies I have as well, and I thought I would share them with you.

Since Anna was little, it has become tradition at this time of year for Rob and I to have a handful of $1 bills in our wallets. When Anna was little, she got hooked on putting money into "the buckets". Yeah, the Salvation Army kettles. The red kettle is cool, but that isn't what hooked her.

Anna's very first experience with a Salvation Army kettle is exactly what it should have been.We were bustling into a store because it was COLD!, and outside the store was a man wrapped up in old coat, hat, and gloves. He was as warm as possible when the temperature is hovering just above freezing and the wind is gusting. Over the blowing wind and ringing bell you could hear it--the man was singing. His voice wasn't great. It was as old and worn as he was, but the heart was there, and it was perfect.

Here I am with a three year-old and nine month-old in tow, and Anna stops solid. She was mesmorized. He smiled at her as he sang. I let her listen for a minute, maybe two, before I bustled them into the building where it was warm.

As we did our shopping Anna asked all about the man and the bucket and why he did that, and I explained it to her. She was so amazed that someone would stand in the freezing weather and sing so people would give money for others who needed it.

Would we give money, too?

Before we walked out of the store, I rummaged through my purse to find out what kind of cash I had since I rarely carry any. Divinely, there was a wadded up dollar bill in there, so I gave it to Anna.When we walked out of the store, Anna went to the bucket to slip the dollar in. That was when I found out they put lids on the kettles now. Anna couldn't get it in, and I had Robert who couldn't stand by himself, so the man with the "perfect voice" showed Anna how to fold the dollar and slide it in.

He wished her a Merry Christmas. She beamed. His eyes twinkled. Our world changed.

The next year Anna started asking about the "people with the buckets and bells" before Thanksgiving. I started keeping some ones in my wallet so she could drop them in.

The next year Robert was big enough to drop money in as well. It has now reached the point where the children ask to frequent stores where the "bells and kettles" are, and if the person is singing, we stop and listen.

One time this year, they had four people out there in Santa hats singing away while the bell ringer rang the bell, and at another store, they had a band with different horns. We listened a long time to that one.

Yep, I think my favorite warm fuzzy has to do with the sound of a bell and $1 bills. Funny to me how something priceless can be so cheap.

Another favorite Christmas was when Anna was about 18 months old. She unwrapped all of her presents, pushed them all aside except for her tooth brush and a shirt box lid. She put the toothbrush in the box lid and slid it around, sort of like an ocean drum, "for hours". When she got done, she sat it safely back under the tree, and then she would go back and get it later to play some more. She did that off and on all day. And I sat and watched her. Who knew a box lid and a tooth brush could be so fascinating for an adult as well as a child?

Another favorite Christmas was a few years ago when Robert was two, maybe three. We had put the Christmas tree up in the TV room away from the main transit of a toddler, and after all the gifts were placed under the tree Christmas Eve, we put a gate up so no small children could help themselves to a gift opening frenzy.

When I woke up, I walked down the hall and peered in Robert's room. He wasn't there. I looked in Anna's room. Anna was sound asleep, but Robert wasn't with her. I walked quietly through the living room and peaked around the corner to see the door to the TV room. There stood Robert with his thumb in his mouth, staring over the gate at the pile of wrapped treasure under the tree. As he stood there, he never touched the gate, only tipped his head from side to side as he sucked his thumb and looked at the loot to be had. I watched him for several minutes, and by God's grace was able to sneak a picture before he noticed me. It is by far on of my favorite pictures from Christmas time, and one of my favorite memories.

May your Christmas afford you great memories, people to love and to love you, and the wisdom to recognize them as the wonderful gifts they are....

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