Monday, November 15, 2010

Time of Giving

Markers, paint brushes, paint pots, potpourri, wooden shapes covered the table.

"Okay. Now, if you spill anything, don't try to cover it up or wipe it up. Let me know so I can clean it up for you. I won't be angry."

"Grammy,  what are we doing with that stuff that smells good?" Gabby asks.

After Christmas last year, I threw a basket full of silver-painted and nature-raw potpourri into a bag thinking that it might serve a purpose later. Now was later.

"I want you to think of what you can do with it. Do you want to paint it? You can brush sparkle onto it. We could even tie a string on it and hand it out as a natural that smells yummy."

'Tis the season. In 15 days we will begin our holiday giving. Our 25 days of Christmas will begin. This giving began back when my children were small. Now another generation is learning the joy of giving. Not just any giving. This is random giving. Ornaments made by young hands handed out to strangers in an effort to spread goodwill. It works. It worked so well that this year the girls want to hand out as many as they can.

"Grammy, can we go outside and find more things to paint?" Sydney asks.

We walk around the neighborhood hand in hand laughing and looking. We end up at Uncle's house roaming around his big yard under the huge fir trees. Baby squirrel comes to visit us. We discover at least 25 different types of toadstools in an assortment of color. Pieces of bark, rocks, twigs find their way into our bag. Best of all, we found time alone.

Creativity took hold of these girls as they designed their ornaments eager to make a special gift for some stranger. Some of the paint is a strange color on the wood. Some of the marker color is a little outside the line. They are all perfect.

Last year the girls were greeted with comments from these receiving strangers. One woman spoke in broken English. Her ornament was going home with her to her country. The children hand off the ornament with a holiday wish. They walk away leaving a stranger to wonder how they could receive a gift without any strings tied to it. How a child could give and not ask for something in return.

One woman was very rude to Gabby. This sweet girl with a loving heart was hurt. This Grammy wanted to bop the woman. But a lesson was learned. We pooled our energy sending good thoughts to this angry woman. We decided that she need this more than an ornament. A negative became a positive.

The pile of ornaments is growing. We will spend the next couple of weeks finishing off these random gifts. I will stand back and watch the girls hand out their ornaments. No names are exchanged. Little conversation passes between the two. The girls know not to engage in conversation with strangers. A gift is given and perhaps, just perhaps, a life is touched by the kindness of the girls. I know that our lives are touched in the giving of these gifts.

The girls wash the paint brushes and gather up the supplies.

"Grammy, can we do this every year?"

Honey, you can do this the rest of your life.


  1. What a marvelous tradition! When I was a kid, we always had sweetgum balls that had been painted silver or gold on our tree.

  2. This a wonderful idea. My granddaughter is too young now, but I will save this idea. It totally charms me. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  3. Our tradition took hold when my daughter and son were standing with me at McDonald's. My young daughter handed the abrupt cashier a small cross stitched ornament. The woman began to cry. "No one ever gives me anything," she explained.

    This mother was trying to put herself through school and raise her children as a single mother. One little ornament touched her heart....and ours.

  4. Susan Adcox sent me to your site. What a darling idea.