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The Gift That Doesn’t Fit Under the Tree


This week has been nothing short of emotional highs and lows. It was Christmas week and with that came great joy and expectation. Mindful this has been a difficult transition for Isabel, I wanted this Christmas to be something special for her. I wanted her to feel totally loved and wanted to demonstrate that by getting all the things on her list. Some kids are accustomed to getting everything on their list. To be perfectly truthful, it was what I was accustomed to as a child; but that is not something that Isabel has ever known. With the help of Grammy and Grampy and “Charlie Brown”, we got all the bases covered.

I had a lot of fun preparing and planning and shopping this year for Christmas. I thought through every angle so that she would have as much fun opening her gifts as I was having buying them. The stocking was overflowing with our traditional things as well as some new things. Careful attention was given to how the gifts were wrapped. I knew once the presents were under the tree, she would be trying to guess what they were. On that point, I was proven right.

Part of the fun for me this year was that I didn’t have to wait until the last minute to go shopping. Our tree was up early with gifts as adornment several days before Christmas Eve arrived. It had not occurred to me, however, that she would be impatient and beg every day to open a gift. How is it that I would overlook that tiny detail in my planning? We indulged her begging on a couple of nights and had fun coming up with different ways for her to choose which gift to open. And maybe, just maybe, really we were indulging our own excitement to watch her open her gifts.

But along the road to Christmas Eve, the day we would be celebrating, I got a call from the doctor; and now my shoulder surgery had been scheduled for December 23rd. With only two days notice, I had a lot of details to cover: laundry, bills, banking, dinners, double checking all the Christmas celebrations plans, and a little bit of time to spend with myself doing something just for me. I felt a lot of anxiety not knowing what to expect other than shoulder surgery wasn’t going to be anything like the knee surgery I had a little over a year ago. And as grateful as I was about finally getting my shoulder taken care of after months of trying to get it scheduled, I was disappointed that it was going to affect our “Christmas morning” the next day.

Christmas Eve arrived early in the morning as did Charlie Brown. Opening gifts had to wait just long enough for Charlie Brown to help me get a bit cleaned up and situated. Thankfully, the nerve block had worn off; and I had use of my hand, but the whole right arm was completely out of commission. Finally, I was settled on the couch and Santa Isabel began to distribute the gifts. We had a great time sharing and exchanging and doing what most Americans do on Christmas morning. But as the day continued on, emotions began to surface that I was not prepared for. Perhaps I should have been. I may have missed the cues. It was a series of events that collided . . .

* Censored as requested *

With all the planning, some might even say obsessing, I do to plan for the unplanned, I missed what was right in front of me. Now, as we move into the new year, I will be learning how to apply these things so that we grow in the surety of how important, how loved and how valued we are to one another.

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