[photopress:Christmas_secret_1208.jpg,thumb,pp_style]By Sherrie Mackelprang
Christmas is like magic. The unexpected can brighten and beautify a heart.
A long time ago in a little desert town a widow made preparations for Christmas. It was 1951 and times were tight. Left to raise seven children alone she was determined to stand on her own two feet. Christmas was no exception.
With the holidays fast approaching, her seven children all brimmed with holiday anticipations.
In spite of her heavy work load and never having enough time, she put together what she hoped would be a pleasant Christmas for her family. Three pre-Christmas mishaps threatened to hamper the budget and dim the festive spirit. There was a broken window pane, a shattered ornament, and a burned down Christmas village, all on the same day. Somehow Christmas would go on.
Playing Santa Claus alone, the thrifty widow placed simple gifts under the tree when a soft knock at the door interrupted her Christmas Eve duties. An unexpected Christmas pixie had arrived. In swooped her father-in-law with little white envelopes of money for all. He quietly placed his gifts among the other presents under the tree. He left as swiftly as he had arrived.
Sitting in the stillness of the night the widow caught sight of a slow moving car passing outside her window. Curious, she put her face to the glass. A shadow drifted across the fence.
Moving fast she threw the door open to find a small package with her named typed neatly on the card–a gift of pretty things for her. Not a soul was in sight. It was another Christmas pixie surprise.
Christmas morning dawned finding the children beaming with delight. More Christmas pixies had filled the refrigerator with chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. Baskets of apples and nuts were left, too. Overcome with gratitude the widow would always remember her Christmas pixies.
This widow was my grandmother. She had a childlike exuberance for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. She always remembered her Christmas pixies.
Years later my grandmother married a Christmas pixie, Ermal. He was a backwards country man, and she loved him. One year he announced, “I don’t want no gifts, but I want to know how much you wuz going to spend on me.” After wringing the proposed amount out of each of the children, he said, “Now I want you to go to Graff’s Grocery and charge that exact amount to me, and buy food or clothing for someone in need.” Then he filled some boxes of his own.
Ermal, my grandma, and the kids struck out as Christmas pixies. At one home where Ermal left groceries, the man broke down and cried. At another home a little boy was so tickled to get a new pair of pants he hugged my grandmother tight.
Ermal then gave his daughter some money and said, “Go out and buy the most beautiful material there is to be had, and make my wife a dress.” The dress was dusty pink with glittery gold thread. It tickled my grandmother to wear it—this gift from her Christmas pixie.
Christmas pixies give from the heart. They bring gifts of love and meaning. Their subtle secret ways of giving lift and lighten the Christmas wary. Being a Christmas pixie can be an organized and thought out process, or it can be as spontaneous as life. The key is in the giving.
One neighborhood decided to pixie each other. Meeting together, the neighbors placed all the household names into a hat. One person from each household drew out a neighbor’s name.
The name that was drawn was the house they were to pixie. For a week before Christmas, the pixie was to do something nice, but secret, for the household they had drawn. The fun was on. Surprises were left on doorsteps. Acts of service were performed stealthily. The neighborhood drew closer together.
Children get into the spirit of being Christmas pixies. When I was a young girl my family helped out another family. I remember looking at the exciting toys that would be going to a different little girl. I didn’t feel jealous. I felt warm and thrilled to be a part of a special secret.
This Christmas time let us all turn up our pixie radars and secretly lighten the step of someone whose step is heavy. May we walk with a silent tread and put a smile on a face that was missing one. May we make this holiday one we will not forget because of our secret acts of love, kindness, and service.