Yesterday, after a wonderful work trip to Spokane, Washington, we flew home. The first leg was peaceful. On the second leg, we hit extreme turbulence. Two passengers said it was the worst plane ride they had ever been on. I returned home, blessed to be alive.
Before the trip, I had prayed, asking God to bring me home to my family. I was nervous about the ride home, and had been in the back of my mind all week. On the plane, I repeated my prayer, but also asked for God’s Will, I believe He always knows best. He answered, and I was able to hold my family in my arms again.
In your Christmas preparations this year, and the wrapping of gifts, I’d ask you to stop and think a minute. What experiences, and unexpected outcomes have wrapped up around you to bring you to this day? I believe that each day of our lives is a gift from God.
We do not know if we will see tomorrow, so we should all be thankful for the gift of today. Whether it’s a good day, or a bad one, it is part of the gift of our lives. I plan on embracing, not the gift only, but The Giver, and doing my best, to daily express gratitude for the time I’ve been given.
Johnny bought it at Mr Hanks store. His Momma couldn’t figure out why he had saved his money for two months, to buy another train. Still it was his money, and she didn’t say a word, soon she was so glad she hadn’t.
“Mom this is the exact one Grandpa talked about. Can you help me paint it blue? It’ll be perfect.” She had to ask, “Perfect for what lil bear?“
“Grandpa used to work on a train years ago. He’s told me all kinds of stories. It was an old one, the kind that still used coal. He said it was that royal blue color Dad has in the garage. They called it Mountain Climber, because of the route, and the steep climbs.”
Martha almost teared up then and there. Her baby wasn’t buying another toy, he was making a gift for her Dad. She knew all about that train. Dad has told her all those same stories when she was lil bear’s age.
Dad had been just a young boy , about the same age himself, when he helped his Dad. Her Grandpa had given him and Uncle Justin the job of feeding the furnace. She was so caught up in her thoughts Johnny had to ask his last question twice.
“Mom, where are we going to get coal for the coal car? It has to be real coal. It just has too.” As he giggled too himself.
“We’ll see if we can find some. Worst case I can coat warm marshmallows in chocolate cookies crumbles to make coal. It’ll look good, and be tasty too.”
She knew it wasn’t good enough for her lil bear, and his mumbling, “It’s not the same…”, confirmed it. Still, for all the talk of it at Christmas, she had no idea where to find coal in this day and age.
Jason came to the rescue. “You can order real coal online. People get it for practical jokes, fake gifts to hide the real gift underneath, or nostalgia. It’ll be fine.”
She didn’t seem convinced. Jason sold it very well, but he also paid to rush delivery, just in case. It got there on time, but everyone was nervous until lil bear placed it in the freshly painted coal car. He had even converted three of his Daddy’s old action figures, two different sizes of course, to reflect Great Grandpa, Grandpa, and Great Uncle Justin.
When Christmas arrived, lil bear started talking about opening gifts, before even breakfast. Finally, about lunch time, when he couldn’t wait a second longer, they agreed. Only Grandpa was surprised when the first package wasn’t for Johnny, but Grandpa Kurt.
“Here Grandpa, it’s time to see if you’ve been naughty or nice. Whether you get a gift, or a lump of coal!” The only lumps were the ones in everyone’s throat when they saw the look on Grandpa’s face as he opened the present.
He hadn’t played with toy trains in years, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of it. So much so he had to brush away the tears off the paint at least twice. Grandpa and Johnny played with it all the rest of the day, and for days to come.
As Grandpa put it. “It was a Coal Car Christmas. Only this time, coal had made the nice list.”