Out of the frying pan come joys of the season

  • January 10, 2012

As we settle into the new year, I can’t help reflecting on three gifts I received this Christmas.

All were thoughtful, one was unintentional, and all came from three wise women. Even a couple weeks later, they still make me smile for different reasons.

The first came from my beautiful and thoughtful wife. This present is the latest, state-of-the-art, high-tech, environmentally-friendly, non-stick, ceramic frying pan. A frying pan! I giggle just typing those words.

The first time I used it for the kids’ pancakes, I couldn’t believe how slick it was — and I didn’t even need oil or non-stick spray. But, my goodness, what would have happened if I had bought her a new blender instead of jewelry? I don’t think she’d be giggling.

Another special gift I received (actually we both did) came from our daughter. It arrived two days before Christmas.

She had a friend over and after dinner, filled with the Christmas spirit, they decided to go carolling in the neighbourhood. That my once-shy little girl and her friend would have the courage to knock on neighbours’ doors offering aural Christmas cheer was delightful enough. But they also decided that if anyone gave them money, all would be passed along to The Compass, a local food bank and drop-in centre for people struggling with life’s challenges. This selfless decision from two girls not quite 13 years old warmed our hearts at Christmas.

As they carolled from street to street, real-time e-mails arrived from neighbours reporting on their whereabouts and praising them for their beautiful voices and poise.

After a couple hours of merriment, they returned home. I figured they’d raised 20 or 30 bucks. Then one Charlotte (they are both named Charlotte) opened the zip-lock bag filled with coins and bills. They raised a whopping $170 that was delivered to The Compass on Christmas Eve.

I told this story to a friend, mentioning how proud I was of our daughter for doing this. “You and Cobi should take a little credit, too,” he said.

“Nay,” I said, “we had nothing to do with it. It was all the girls’ initiative from start to finish.”

“Go read Proverbs 22:6,” he said. 

So I did. It reads: “Train up a child in the way (s)he should go and when (s)he is old (s)he will not depart from it.”

Having a friend who not only knows the Bible, but cares enough to point out that passage at that particular time also warmed my heart at Christmas.

The third gift is an innocuous-looking green binder from my Aunt Joan, who holds the title of “the world’s youngest 80-year-old.” The binder is filled with Christmas cards she received over the years from my Aunt Mary Louise. Each card is filled by handwritten notes from “ML” about her life that particular year. She died in 2008.

My two aunts are not related. Aunt Joan is my mom’s little sister and Aunt Mary Louise is my dad’s younger sister. But they were friends as teenagers when ML and her family lived in Toronto before moving back to Pennsylvania. (My dad stayed, and he and mom raised seven children though each of my parents passed long ago.)

The first free moment alone after Christmas, I curled up in a chair and read every one of Aunt Mary Louise’s Christmas cards to Aunt Joan. Her reflections ranged from their time as teens on the Danforth to the teasing inflicted upon her by my dad to her observations from afar as the insidious Alzheimer’s gripped my dad more tightly to her own deteriorating heart condition over the years.

As I flipped the pages, I had an overwhelming feeling of the importance of family, especially over the holiday season, but also throughout the entire year as this one begins anew. It was a very warm feeling.

And, I also thought, while the post-Christmas sales are on, maybe I should get out and do my shopping early and buy my wife a state-of-the-art blender and tuck it away for next Christmas.

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