Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Love's Spark

Part Two of Our Day of Giving

And so begins the rest of our adventure on that day of giving. We first had planned on just volunteering for the USO and the Snowball Express, but new plans surfaced along the way.

Jacob and I were done volunteering around lunch time. Time had flown, and we were both starving. We stopped off to get lunch and fuel our bodies for the next two stops. We both enjoyed having our lunch together, discussing the day so far. We talked about the little kids. They were so cute and they really enjoyed the bowling game. We talked about all the wonderful things they got to do, but we also discussed that many of these kids had lost fathers, and there was one Dad there with his two daughters who had lost their mother. My heart ached for these families, but I was glad that we could bring a little cheer to their day.

My mother-in-law, also known as Mimi, had mentioned in passing that she wasn't going to put up a tree this year and not much in the way of decorations. My guess was that the effort to do all this was a little too overwhelming for her. That is where Jacob and I came in. After lunch we headed to her house to “ungrinch” it. She was at work and had no idea that we were going to her house to take care of the decorations. In we went and down to the basement to search around for what we needed. She made it easy. She had five artificial trees and some of them were still decorated from last year. I knew that she liked to have trees in the main rooms that she uses, so we set out to place trees where she could see them. One that was already decorated went into her bedroom. Jacob commented on how pretty the glow from the lights was and that he was sure Mimi was going to love it! Onward.

Next we found three smaller trees of various sizes. They seemed to go together. The problem was that two were decorated and the large one was not. Jacob convinced me that this was ok and that if we grouped them together it would look like it was supposed to be like that. We decided to put these in the kitchen where she had just the little nook for them.

Last was the living room. We brought up the final tree, which was not decorated but did have lights pre-hung on it. We had to find decorations for it. She had tub after tub of decorations and I wasn't really sure which to grab. I found one tub with grapes and golden guitars and some silver and gold pine cones and other baubles. I decided I would use these. It was sure to look like a tree from the department store. Those decorations were fancy!

Jacob and I gathered around the tree and placed the decorations here and there. We surveyed our work, rearranged, checked again, and rearranged the decorations one final time. I remembered seeing a tree skirt and some other decorations that she had used in the past. I gathered them from the basement, and we talked about what to do with the things I had found. We decided to put the sleigh on the fireplace hearth. Jacob thought we should place the two reindeer, dressed in their holiday best, under the tree. We did just that and we were finished.

We again checked each tree and were so excited for Mimi to see what we had done. Jacob was full of joy and excitement for doing this small thing for Mimi, his paternal grandma. Then we were out the door and on to our last stop, to visit my mom, his maternal grandma.

We arrived at the locked down ward where she lives. Jacob had some M&Ms in his pocket in case we had to bribe her to hang out with us. Sounds strange, but you soon learn what works, at least sometimes, with an Alzheimer's patient. Grandma loves her treats! In we went, Jacob racing ahead to punch in the code, because kids love punching buttons, Santa hat bobbing along. In we went, and she was talking with another resident. We approached her and the nurse told her we had arrived. She was a bit confused at first, but we greeted her with hellos, hugs, kisses, and a few M&Ms, and she was soon on our side. We started our visit with walking around a bit, which she loves to do.

There was an old Cab Calloway movie on. It was belting out some great tunes and so Jacob decided to ask his Grandma to dance. They danced and she sang. They danced some more and then I cut in and danced a bit with Mom. She smiled, laughed, and sang some more. She was having a great time. After about 45 minutes, we had to get home in time to meet Reese, who would be off the bus soon. We explained to Mom that we would have to go and she gave us an, “Awwww,” just like a little kid would. Then she laughed and said, “I understand hon. It's ok.” We told her we would see her soon. She walked us to the door where we gave her more hugs, kisses, and told her we loved her.

We scooted out and Jacob and I held hands as we walked toward the car, skipping through the parking lot.

It was a day of giving and it felt so good, so right. Although Jacob still believes in Santa Claus (quite a feat at 10 years old), he felt the magic of what being Santa is all about, being a servant to others and enjoying it. Finding ways to give back, not because you have to, not because it has been asked for, but just because. And as good as we made all these people feel, he realized how good it feels to be the giver instead of the receiver.

One day I will have to explain about Santa. Not that he isn't real but, instead that he lives in all of us. His magic is about believing in things you cannot see or touch and things that cannot be measured. We must do this every day with our family, our friends, our beliefs. And what is this big entity that we must believe in? Simply put, it's love. My dad once wrote in a poem to my sister:

Santa will find you, at night in the dark,
For he's guided by love, and love's little spark,
Shines in the night as a guide and a beacon,
To lead him to you as soon as you're sleeping.
He watched you all year, your smiles and your laughing,
The way of your life, your giving and sharing.
Santa will find you, rest and sleep tight,
If love's spark will guide him, he'll see your bright light.

May you find another's bright light, just as we did that day.

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