Saturday, December 31, 2005

An End of the Holidays Thought. And Happy New Year!

I always hear all these stories during the holiday season. I got this this this this and this for Christmas. I get all these presents all eight nights for Chanukah. Selfishness in children and selfishness in adults. So and so got me THIS but so and so only got me THAT. Or I see the gross over commercialization of the holiday season... in the malls, on the streets, at peoples homes... The amount of presents and the amount of $$ spent on these presents is always completely amazing to me. I got presents when I was younger, but I never remember it being completely over the top. I don't get Chanukah presents anymore though. My parents stopped giving me and my sister presents years ago, and I stopped giving friends and family presents gradually over the years. Rob and I decided not to give each other physical gifts this year in exchange for the gift of the effort to spend more time with each other, making even more room in our busy schedules for quality time together.

In this spirit, sort of, I was re-reading one of my favorite childhood books from the Little House series by Laura Ingals Wilder. I was reading the series namesake, Little House on the Prairie. And I got to thinking as I read the chapter entitled: Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus. It's a bit of a big excerpt but I'm going to retype the part that got me thinking.

Before I quote, for those of you who don't know the book by heart like I do, Laura Ingalls and her family are living on the prairie in Indian Territory with very few neighbors. The don't have a ton of things as they are so isolated on the prairie. Mary and Laura for example share a tin cup to drink from at meals. That year the winter is wet and rainy with no snow. Mary and Laura have accepted the fact that Santa Claus won't be able to get to them for Christmas because of the bad rain and because the river has risen too high for him to cross. They are disappointed, but understand the problem. Their parents are disappointed also but try and cheer Mary and Laura up. Then, out of the blue, their neighbor, Mr. Edwards, shows up with presents from Santa Claus! He managed in the heavy rains to walk 40 miles and back to the nearest town and braved the rising river to "meet" Santa Claus and bring the girls their presents.

And here's where I bring in the quote...

"Something was shining bright in Laura's stocking. She squealed and jumped out of bed. So did Mary, but Laura beat her to the fireplace. And the shining thing was a glittering new tin cup. Mary had one exactly like it.

These new tin cups were their very own. Now they each had a cup to drink out of. Laura junped up and down and shouted and laughed, but Mary stood still and looked with shining eyes at her own tin cup.

Then they plunged their hands into the stockings again. And they pulled out two long, long sticks of candy. It was peppermint candy, striped red and white. They looked and looked at the beautiful candy, and Laura licked her stick, just one lick. But Mary was not so greedy. She didn't take even one lick of her stick.

Those stockings weren't empty yet. Mary and Laura pulled out two small packages. They unwrapped them and each found a little heart-shaped cake. Over their delicate brown tops was sprinkled white sugar. The sparkling grains lay like tiny drifts of snow.

The cakes were too pretty to eat. Mary and Laura just looked at them. But at last Laura turned hers over, and she nibbled a tiny nibble from underneath, from where it wouldn't show. And the inside of the cake was white!

It had been made of pure white flour, and sweetened with white sugar. Laura and Mary never would have looked in their stockings again. The cups and the cakes and the candy were almost too much. They were too happy to speak. But Ma asked if they were sure their stockings were empty.

Then they put their hands down inside them to make sure.

And in the very toe of each stocking was a shining bright, new penny!

They had never even thought of such a thing as having a penny. Think of having a whole penny for your very own. Think of having a cup and a cake and a stick of candy and a penny.

There had never been such a Christmas."

And that's that. I think the world could learn from a simple passage like that. Simplicity is so much nicer than greed. And I'll bet there are still plenty of children in this world who would love a cup to drink from and a stick of candy. Every time I see holiday craziness and holiday commercialism, and all that, I think of this passage. It's so simple, but I think it says so much. Plus, the book that surrounds it is so much fun to read!

And on that note it's time to get going. Happy New Year!

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