It’s the morning of Christmas Eve and there was only one subject on the minds of my littles: SANTA!
“When’s Santa coming? Is he going to bring me a scooter? How many cookies should we leave out for him? Will Santa come to my room to see if I’m sleeping?” And the questions went on…and on…and on.
For weeks my four year old had been counting down to Santa’s big visit and now that the time was almost here, she could barely control her excitement–jumping up and down, clapping her hands, letting out little screams.
But before we began with our festivities, we had an important stop to make. It was time for me to give my little girl a glimpse about what Christmas is really about.
It’s the last day of my 30 Day Christmas Challenge, and I may have saved the best for last.
I had been planning this act of kindness for some time…I even tried to complete it earlier, but it seemed that fate intervened with other plans that day. (Read all about that here.)
When I called to schedule a time for my visit, the woman asked if I could come today, Christmas Eve. And I realized that today, of all days, was the absolute perfect day to complete this act of kindness.
Today I was going to get to feel like a real-life Santa Claus! And to make it even better, I got to have the cutest four year old elf ready to help me.
So we packed up our sleigh with toys and were on our way.
My daughter looked in the lobby and saw a woman sitting by herself….“That looks like Nana!”
Ironically “Nana”, my 84 year old grandmother, was the reason why we were here.
We weren’t at a center to deliver toys to children…we were visiting an Alzheimer’s home.
(Toys like baby dolls are extremely comforting to those with Alzheimer’s–and toys like puzzles and ones with texture help keep their minds alert while relaxing them. For weeks we’d been gathering items.)
One of the absolute hardest realities that I’ve been forced to face over the past year or so is with my grandma.
It’s nearly impossible for me to accept–I still see her as the feisty, energetic, and funny woman who helped raise me. I remember spending the night with her when I was growing up–we’d stay up late, she’d make us banana splits (our little secret), and we’d break beans for her to can as we watched her “stories” (aka soap operas) that she taped on her VCR. By the time I woke up in the morning, the whole house would smell delicious–pancakes, eggs, biscuits and gravy.
She would spend all day, every day, in the kitchen cooking. I remember coming home from school and seeing my grandma’s car in our driveway–dropping off a five course meal for us to enjoy.
When I was waiting tables during college, she would come and sit in my section…and before she left, she would nearly tackle me to the floor, forcing me to take extra money.
Over the course of my 35 years, this woman has been my rock, the mother hen to our entire family. She’s taught me so much about unconditional love…about generosity…and about the importance of family.
But things are now changing.
The woman whose life mission was once to feed the world, is now not able to cook.
Her memory has faded so much–she forgets conversations in less than a minute.
It breaks my heart.
So I wanted to do something–in honor of my grandma. Something to help those who likely spent their entire lives helping others.
I originally thought we’d just be dropping off the toys, but that wasn’t the case.
The woman led us to four different areas in the center–we were going to hand deliver our gifts.
We started in the wing where the patients were barely alert. We pulled the cart to the middle of the aisle and the director asked my little girl if she’d like to give one of the baby dolls to the woman sitting in the chair. I watched my little girl walk over and gently place a doll on the woman’s lap. The woman couldn’t speak…but she picked up the doll, closed her eyes, and hugged it. It was one of my favorite Christmas moments.
As we visited the other wings, my daughter became more comfortable and the patients were more alert and sociable. After delivering our gifts (which they loved), they asked if she would sing some Christmas carols and without hesitation, my daughter belted out Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Oh, Christmas Tree! The crowds loved her–they clapped, they cheered, they thanked her, they smiled.
Yes, this is what Christmas is really about: kindness, generosity, helping others.
My mom found “indoor snowballs”…and I watched my grandma and grandpa have a snowball fight with each other!
Closing out my kindness challenge, I was happy to be able to bring some Christmas magic to the young at heart…and to see that no matter how old you may be, Christmas has the power to make us all feel like kids again!
May the magic of Christmas stay with us all.