Sunday, November 28, 2004

Seeking the Christmas Spirit

I am one of those annoying "holiday people." But I just haven't found my Christmas spirit yet this year. I don't know where it's hiding. I'm forging ahead and hoping that the actual decorating will bring it out (though I'm already dreading having to take it all down).

In trying to find my Christmas spirit, I was thinking back to certain Christmases that meant more than others and I remembered one Christmas (and birthday) in particular from long ago...

David and I were living together in Hattiesburg, and I was still in grad school at the University of Southern Mississippi, surviving off an assistantship stipend and many odd jobs. One of those odd jobs was serving as a nanny/child shuffler/housecleaner/errand girl to the children of Rex and Anita Stamper, both professors at USM at the time. After surveying our financials for December, I had decided that we just did not have the money for a Christmas tree. It was sad, but it was an additional expense that we just could not make at the time. (I decorated a house plant in lights instead.) It was going to be the first Christmas in my life I had never had a tree at my house.

But the Stampers somehow learned belatedly of my Dec. 3 birthday that year and showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep about a week later with a birthday cake and $50 cash. I was so surprised! And with their $50 I was able to buy a small tree and even some decorations too. It was one of my best Christmases, I think, because I was able to have a tree after all, but also because I learned the true meaning wasn't the tree after all. (My Christmas would have been just as nice without a tree, I'm sure.) It was friendship, love and kindness - and finding special ways to show it to each other.

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