Getting to Christmas

Will you do a pass-the-parcel?

It was a text from my sister, asking me to prepare the game for my niece’s birthday party.

In my family, pass-the-parcel is my job.

Every birthday (and we have a lot of birthdays).

Every Christmas.

I wrap layer after layer after layer.

And I love it.

One Christmas, thinking to expand my festive contribution, I volunteered to make the mince pies.

Politely, although less politely as Christmas-time wore on, everyone munched away.

The next year, the family unanimously asked me not to make the mince pies.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister celebrated her birthday and, true to tradition, I prepared a pass-the-parcel.

As I carried it to the room where the party was being held, I bumped into my three year old nephew.

Seeing the parcel in my hands, his eyes lit up:

“Are we playing pass-the-parcel?”

When I told him that we were, he very confidentially said;

“We need to open it carefully because there will be a surprise for us to look for in each layer.”

Well, I knew that.

I put the surprise in each layer.

But it got me thinking.

“There will be a surprise for us to look for in each layer.”

What he hadn’t said was;

“There’ll be a prize in the middle.”

He knew there would be a prize.

But he knew that getting to the prize was special, too.

It made me think about Christmas.

25th of December.

The ‘prize’ we rush towards and focus on.

So manic and busy that perhaps we forget that actually getting to Christmas can be special, too.

“We need to open it carefully because there will be a surprise for us to look for in each layer.”

Or maybe a surprise to look for in each day.

A surprise we need to be careful to take time to notice.

Or we’ll miss it.

I had a surprise today.

My niece came in from the cold, pink cheeked, with something she’d collected for me.

A surprise.

Some dead leaves.

I said, “thank you,” and turned to carry on with what I was doing.

What else was there to say, really.

But, as I turned, I saw that she was taking those leaves and arranging them into a bouquet.

I paused and watched.

Each leaf was individual and beautiful,

arranged with precision and care,

and I’d nearly not noticed in my rush to carry on with what I was doing.

By the time I was presented with my bouquet, I saw how special my surprise actually was.

Because I’d taken time to notice.

Or perhaps to pause in our pursuit of being ready for December the 25th.

Of having the shopping done and the presents wrapped.

And just take time.

Time to look for special surprises along the way.


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