Tuesday, December 29, 2009

coloring books and crayons

We stood in the hallway of the church, me heading to my office to demystify myself, she putting on her coat, getting ready to head out into the bitter day. So, we had one of those hallway conversations folks often have, as their minds are traveling in one direction, hoping this brief stop wouldn't slow either one of us down too much.

I asked how her Christmas had been and she asked about mine. We had gone up to Columbus to see Teddy, to go out for our now Traditional (once is a happenstance, twice becomes a tradition in my denomination) Christmas repast at the Waffle House, indulging in the major food group known as sugar. She had spent the holy day with her cat, but was off to a relative's house in the afternoon where she would be immersed in a pool of 40 some relatives.

We both bemoaned the commercialism, the overindulgence of children and grandchildren who end up with a ton of presents, the toys that get broken so quickly and easily and end up out on the curb the week after the holiday. And we both recalled how, as kids, sometimes the biggest excitement in the neighborhood came when someone had a major appliance delivered to their house, and the empty cardboard box was set out by the curb, and was immediately turned into an airplane, pirate ship, mansion, truck, whatever and wherever our imagination would take us.

That's when she mentioned the fact that when she was growing up, in a family with 12 kids in it, there were no individual gifts presented at Christmas, but there was a group gift for all the kids - a board game, a puzzle, a book, something to be shared by all. And then, with the memory glittering in her eyes, she told me about the Christmas when her six sisters were all adults, and she gave each of them her very own coloring book and box of crayons. A gift that they would never have had as a child, a memory they shared from their childhood, a surprise they never expected now that they were all grown up. "Oh, I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces when they opened those presents," she said.

No need; I saw her face.

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

1 comment:

Sally said...

and thank you for the gift of your words.