For Christmas, I received the perfect gift, and I didn’t even know that I wanted it.  I can see and feel it, but I can’t touch it, and I can only describe it as… “sweetness.”

A couple days before Christmas, I came down with a cold.  My stuffy/runny nose threatened to kill my holiday spirit (and I LOVE the holidays), but that cold was no match for “sweetness.”  On Christmas Eve morning, after my husband left for work, my kids tried unsuccessfully to get me out of bed for nearly an hour.  Finally, my older son tugged on my arm and told me I had to get up.  This time, he wouldn’t go away and I was forced to get out of bed; he stood there just to make sure.

I shuffled out of my room, into the hallway, and turned the corner to the family room/kitchen area.  The kids yelled “surprise!”  At first, I thought the surprise was that I actually got out of bed, but my older son ran to the table and said, “look, we made you breakfast!”

For the first time, I noticed the table full of dishes.  At my seat at the table, I saw a plate of cream cheese toast, apple sauce, mixed berries, chocolate milk and string cheese.  With pride in their eyes, they informed me that it was my Christmas present.  The sweetest thing of all?  Their plates sat uneaten, even though both of them were hungry.

I just woke up, couldn’t breathe through my nose, and I didn’t really feel like eating.  But I sat down and ate my cold toast anyway (it sat for nearly an hour waiting for me to get out of bed.)  As I finished breakfast, I thanked God for the gift – not the breakfast itself, but for the sweetness that appears dormant most of the time, but is obviously in them.

It makes me wonder, am I here to teach them – or is it the other way around?

P.S. I felt bad for being lazy and messing up their plan, so I shared a few phrases that would get me out of bed – fast:

“(Younger son) is playing with knives.”

“There’s a fire on the stove.”

“A cat just ate ribbon off a present.”  (We don’t use ribbon because of this, but if I’m sleepy enough, I could forget that.)

“My fish isn’t swimming.”

I hope you received the gift of sweetness, too.  What is your best sweet, funny, or exciting holiday memory?

* Image by boomerinvegas via photobucket.com

Holiday (Failed) Lessons In Manners

Our boys are eight and four (oops, sorry, ‘almost five’) years old and we are constantly drilling manners into them, only to find their shirts smeared with lunch (because they didn’t use napkins), demanding instead of asking (I don’t hear any request without ‘please’), and interrupting because they have to know right then why the moon only comes out at night (they forget thatwe’ve reminded them 173,289 times not to talk over someone else.)

Christmas and family gatherings present a whole new set of worries for us, as parents of manner-challenged children.  We prep them on proper greetings (hug and kiss, and don’t wipe off grandma’s kiss on their cheeks while she’s looking), food handling (you touch it, you take it), and thank you hugs for gifts—even if the gift wasn’t what they really wanted.

Last year, we started the manners boot camp soon after Thanksgiving.  By the time Christmas came, we were confident that our boys would be the poster children for impeccable manners.  We beamed with pride as our younger son stared at a plate of cookies and then reached his hand out delicately to pick up one cookie without handling any of the others.  My husband and I nodded approval when our older son thanked someone for a gift he already had—without telling them he already had it.  And then, it happened.

My older son opened a gift from my Aunt and Uncle (I can’t remember what it was now) and he gasped in surprise.  He ripped all of the paper off of it and looked at my Aunt and Uncle, wide eyed and blurted out, “this was like fifty dollars, that’s way too much money!”

Oh, boy.  We didn’t anticipate that one.  I gently shook my head ‘no’ at him.   Not one for subtlety, he said, “what?  That’s how much it cost and I can’t believe they spent that much on me.”  I cringed.  Everyone sat in silence for a few seconds and then my Aunt and Uncle laughed, and others followed.

You can bet that this year, we covered the money aspect of gifts (at his birthday, our older son had asked how much a gift cost…another cringe moment for me.)   We went through a refresher course on gift-thanking etiquette and the ever-important food behavior.  I think they’re ready for another shot at being GMAs (Good Manner Ambassadors.)  What we’re going for is a display of their natural exuberance tempered by graciousness.  We’ll see what happens…

I hope you enjoy the holidays and time spent with friends and family.  I want everyone to feel the warmth of love.  May the memories made (no matter how embarrassing) bring a year full of stories (or a blog post or two) and a lifetime of smiles.

And, in case you’re wondering, my well-wishes didn’t cost a dime 🙂