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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All I Want For You.

“Santa baby...slip a sable under the tree...for me. Been an awfully good girl, Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

Last year I ordered some chickens and piglets to be sent to my Ugandan foster child’s family for Christmas. I found out later that the regularly sponsored families are already off the ‘needy’ list, so they aren’t eligible for livestock gifts. Besides, my family already has a cow. So their village got my chickens and piglets, and they were dispersed to the neediest families in the area. And that’s ok with me—I don’t mind that my foster child’s family didn’t get the animals. I feel bad that they didn’t get anything from me at Christmas, but I sent a few extra things for Valentine’s Day as soon as I found out.
The point is, I sent the gifts with the hope that they would go to someone who needed and appreciated them, and I believe that is exactly what happened.
That really is the best we can hope for at Christmas—that it be less about what we bought and more about kindnesses exchanged.
When my girls were little, I remember playing one VHS movie after another, from about Halloween onward, so that we wouldn’t be subjected to a barrage of Christmas toy commercials. It worked for a little while, until they started school. Then they would come home with a list for Santa, the product of recess-time collaboration.
I got away fairly easy though, I think. My girls never demanded name-brand items they knew I couldn’t afford, and they didn’t get into expensive technologies until they could help pay the bill themselves. I really think they like to plan, shop and give as much as they like to receive. And I think they have all learned how good it feels to take a name off an angel tree and buy a gift for someone less fortunate, or to put a handful of loonies into the Salvation Army kettle.
Now that they are older, Christmas is about getting caught up on things they need, padding their bank accounts and equipping them with gift certificates for Boxing Week sales. The gift giving has become very practical. In a way, the holiday is more about the gatherings than the gifts now.
We celebrate togetherness, with family and friends, and give thanks for the year as it comes to an end. Whether your 2011 was annus horribilis or annus mirabilis, it’s time to bid it adieu. 
Next year is our year of weddings. My daughter and my sister will both be brides in 2012. It promises to be a whirlwind of excitement as we pass through planning stages and celebrations.
Another daughter is heading off to university in the fall. Mapping out plans for her future, sending her hopes and dreams out into the universe to see what comes back.
The Farmer and I will raise another batch of cattle, another wave of lambs, and perhaps a few kittens too. The seasons will come and go; we will work hard for our money, and eat well every weekend at our porch table, set for 16 to 20.
I sit at my desk and look out the window upon a beautiful sight. Our Belgian horse, Misty, is crossing the snow-white field on a diagonal. Her mane is blowing in the wind. She stops for a moment, realizing she has left her best pal Donkey behind. He is still snacking at the hay feeder. She raises her head and whinnies at him. He obliges her and follows the path she has made, out to the snowy pasture. I recognize that this is a sight I am blessed to witness every day. I have all that I need, right here.
Merry Christmas, dear readers. Thank you to everyone who sent me a card or email this season. I wish you the very best of life in the coming year.  

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