Saturday, December 14, 2013
The Twelve Days of Christmas, or Our Best Christmas Ever
I have no idea who gave my family our best Christmas ever. I tried to find out so I could not only thank them but let them know what they did for my family. They worked so hard to keep it a secret and after awhile I realized they didn't want me to know so I gave up trying to figure it out. Besides, I had given it my best shot and came up with nothing! No clue!
It was back in the early 1990's. I was divorced, working at the best job in the world (library) but for a tiny bit above minimum wage and I had 4 children. I didn't have a lot of money to do fun things for my children during the holiday season. My Mother had died the year before right at Christmas and I was dreading the season coming around that year. A couple of other difficult things were going on. It was not going to be a Norman Rockwell Christmas.
Whoever it was knew my schedule well. Two weeknights a week I worked until 9 p.m. I worked every other Saturday and the other week days until 6 p.m. I lived in a bit of a scary neighborhood and I think they realized anything they left on my porch would disappear if left alone for long. They left us 12 gifts, at random times, but always just shortly after I had picked my children up and arrived home at night. Being December it was always in the dark.
The first gift came early in December. It was a thin tree branch, maybe about 5 or 6 feet tall, with a pear attached to it and a little note ... "On the first day of Christmas my true friend gave to me a pear tied to a tree." My children, ages 8 though 14, and I thought it was fun that someone rang our doorbell and left this on our porch. I assumed it was meant for one of my daughters and from one of their friends. We did not expect another gift.
A week later, the doorbell rang again. No one there but a gift was left on our porch. I am sorry to say I don't remember what it was, but it went along with the song and had a little note... I am pretty sure it was a box of Chocolate "Turtle" candies and a bar of Dove soap. It definitely brightened our day.
We thought there might possibly be a 3rd gift so the kids tried to listen for a car to stop at our home but we never heard or saw a thing. At a random time the doorbell would ring and they would be out of sight before we opened the door.
We asked everyone we could think of if they were leaving the gifts. No one admitted to it but many friends of mine and my children would ask daily "did you get another gift?" It was fun & holiday joy for a multitude of people, especially my co-workers! Never knowing when a gift might come or what it would be created suspense, anticipation, and happiness that made that December fun when we were sorely missing my Mom and their Grandma.
Of the other gifts I can only remember four. Instead of 3 French hens we found 3 frozen Cornish hens and other food items to make a meal. Our five golden rings was a can of pineapple rings. Instead of 10 Lords a Leaping we received socks. Pretty socks - argyles, stripes, bright colors - not just plain old white socks. A pair for each of us totaling 10 socks. They were pinned to something, I can't remember what, but pinned as if hanging on a clothes line. The last gift was a party in a box ... items to "drum up a party"....cans of Sprite, cookies, snacks. It was the best Christmas ever.
I so wish I had the list of exactly what we received. I kept all of the notes that came with each gift but somehow I lost them over the years. I recently googled "gifts for the 12 Days of Christmas" and found this wonderful article: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/christmascrafts/ss/12-Days-Of-Christmas.htm. It has great examples of things you can give for the 12 days. If you can ever afford it and know someone who needs some holiday cheer I promise this can't be beat. It doesn't have to be expensive gifts, just requires some imagination. We appreciated the can of pineapple as much as any of them. 20 years later when I see a pineapple ring I remember that feeling of bliss finding our "5 golden rings." 20 years of thinking someone loved my family so much that they created gifts, came by my home and left them 12 times during what most likely was an already busy month for them. Somebody cared about us.
Go out and hug somebody, and give someone a Christmas surprise if you can.