In the fall of 1981, a shy girl, still very homesick for her friends and life in France, moved with her family to a suburban community just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She didn’t know many people and to say it was a shock to her quiet self to be suddenly plunked into a huge junior high with 300 or so kids in the seventh grade alone, is an understatement. There had only been 15 or so kids in the whole 6th grade at her previous school!
That fall this shy girl comforted herself by reading lots of books and writing and drawing. But good things were at work for within days of starting school that girl (who was me if you haven’t guessed) met a sweet, kind, soul who immediately made her (me) feel welcome.
This girl, whose name was Elizabeth, was shy like me and also liked to read and write. We quickly became “kindred spirits” for, yes, we had both, of course, read and loved Anne of Green Gables. Elizabeth made that first fall in Minnesota not just bearable but delightful!
This brings me to my special Christmas memory that was triggered by watching this Youtube video that this special friend, who grew up to be a Lutheran pastor, posted on her social media this week. In it, she shares a special life-long collection of hers: advent calendars! Enjoy the video and then read about my special memory below:
Pastor Elizabeth may not remember this, but that first December of my junior high life in Minnesota, she invited me over to her house. I don’t remember all the details of that afternoon, but I do remember the highlight!
“Do you want to make advent calendars?” she asked. I had never heard of such a thing so she showed me one and explained how it was a special way to look forward to Christmas day by opening little windows each day.
Then she showed me how we could make our own by using two pieces of sturdy paper. First we drew our cover sheets with festive Christmas scenes. Next, using scissors we cut out 24 flaps for windows and numbered each one. Then we attached the undersheet and put a special Christmas message or symbol or verse in each window. It was so much fun!
I’m pretty certain that my own family’s love of advent calendars can be traced back to Elizabeth. Indeed, since they were little, my kids have looked forward to their advent calendars (and the chocolate inside) each and every year. Need proof? Here’s a tasty close up of Miss A’s 2020 advent calendar.
Now, in a spirit of gratitude and awareness of God’s blessings, I’d like to take a moment to honor Elizabeth, who’s been such a good friend over the years – doing kind things like cheering me on in my writing journey and even sharing my books with her congregation.
Here’s my closing thought for you. Is there some special holiday or family tradition that can be traced back to a special person in your life? If so, maybe today or this week is a good time to find that person and let them know.
Blessings of the season, all!