Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy Holly-gays!

I know, the holiday season is technically done, as evidenced by the lack of sleep I got on New Year's Eve. But I had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. I now have a nephew AND a niece in Holland - both of whom I've not yet met in person. I hate airfare. Work has been increasingly poopy for some time. I managed to get my scheduling done and survived the end of semester without a body count, but am still quite burned out on work. The weather was bad, many of my cronies were leaving town, and I was generally feeling blah about the holidays.

On the upside we managed to pull together most of the original flock, as NerdyGirl and MandyFish were both able to return to Laramie for a bit. Flock Hall was host to a late Holiday Party on the 28th, so on the 27th we spent a day shopping in Fort Collins. The weather was terrible and the roads iffy at best, but we managed to stay warm and have a good time. My carload continued south to pick up MandyFish from the airport, though the weather delayed her flight again and again. We also rescued a stranded Mark, as Greyhound had diverted his bus to Denver and then cancelled the bus to Laramie due to road conditions. I got to bed at 5am, though it was certainly worth it to see everyone again!

Most of us are quite familiar with the phrase "It's the thought that counts." It's often said with a grain of salt, or even dripping in sarcasm. It's a joke to some of us, or at least is used as such. When I was growing up Christmas often reminded me of what we didn't have, especially when answering the dreaded question, "what did you get for Christmas?" While my friends were enjoying a new Nintendo, designer clothes, a computer, their own TV, and large checks, I was opening socks, underwear, and some very meager presents. But it didn't matter, as the holiday spirit was ever-present and my mother always made sure it was a good Christmas.

Today I'm too old to get checks from the extended family, and my sister and I have an understanding about sending presents back and forth. It costs more to ship something than it does to buy it, so we refrain. It was another homemade holiday for me, and most of my friends got jewelry, cookies, or something I crocheted. By Christmas, there wasn't much under my invisble tree, and I was admittedly a bit blue about it. Then we had the Flock party.

I hadn't seen a tree with that many presents under it in a great long while, I assure you. By the time presents were passed out, we each had a modest stack in front of us. There wasn't really anything extravagant, as none of us are sitting on a gold mine and we have to make our pennies count. I was SO moved at the thought and effort that went into the gift-giving, though. A little trinket from the kitchen store, something that went with someone's hobby, etc. It didn't matter whether the gift was worth $2, it was quite specific to the person. We had a great meal, and the last of the group headed home around 2am.

As I drove home, I thought about that phrase. "It's the thought that counts." On our shopping trip, I'd seen it in action too. This person knew exactly what they were getting that person. That person saw the perfect little something. She needed help in distracting him so she could buy it and smuggle it to the gift wrapping area. "You can't go back there right now." "You should go over there for a little while?" "What am I going to get so-and-so?" "What do you WANT?" The value was in the love a gift represented, not the cost. We were also together as a family, and that was the best part of all.

In the end, it was a great holiday for me. I ended up with three times "the haul" I'd expected, and every single gift was thoughtful and dear. I got to see a few folks who have been gone and away for far too long. I was reminded that near or far, our various families are always with us. Most importantly, I felt loved and was able to give others that same warm feeling. What better gift - and lesson - is there?

Happy holidays to all, with ALL MY LOVE!

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