Saturday, December 5, 2009

Siobhann's Third Christmas: A Lesson For Everyone

Siobhann woke up early the morning of her third Christmas. She had been waiting for so long for this day. She still remembered last Christmas and couldn't wait to see what Santa had brought her. Hair messy and sleep still in her eyes, she made her way to the living room where the Christmas tree was.

Her eyes lit up as she saw all the presents under the tree and the stockings stuffed with all sorts of goodies. She clapped her hands in delight as she ran to the tree. She looked at each package, not sure where to start.

Her Daddy and I were thrilled. Not a big Christmas by most standards, but it was the best one she had ever had. Her father had an accident when she was eight months old and had been unable to work until just a few months before. We scrimped and saved and did the best we could, after we got caught up on all the bills that couldn't wait. Well, most of them. It was Christmas and some things would just have to wait.

Instead of tearing into her packages as we had expected, Siobhann carefully inspected each one. She had a compliment for each bow and the pretty paper. She opened them slowly, making sure not to tear the paper anymore than necessary. She placed each of the bows in a neat pile. We learned she would play with them later.

Pretty princess pajamas were held up and modeled for us. The game of CandyLand was squealed over. A giant bag of socks were studied intensely, taking note of each different color. Play make-up and dress up clothes were handled with care as she moved them aside.

The prettiest box was tucked away at the very back of the Christmas tree. It was the doll she had seen at Wal-Mart and had fallen in love with. We had kept that hidden in the top of the closet since our first pay day in over two years. Her Daddy and I tried not to cry as she opened it. We need she'd be so excited when she saw the little doll with the long brown hair and big blue eyes.

The bows were placed in the pile of other bows and the wrapping paper was carefully peeled away, revealing a box that had once held Huggies wipes. It had been the perfect size for this special doll.

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" Siobhann shrieked, hugging both me and her Daddy. "We always need wipies."

She sat the box aside and began looking at the pretend make-up she had gotten.

We were speechless. I finally managed to suggest she open the box.

"I'll put it in the bathroom," she said, jumping up to take the box with her dream doll away.

"Open it up. Santa sometimes uses boxes for other things to put presents in," my quick-thinking husband explained.

"It's wipies. Santa knows we always need wipies." Siobhann explained, refusing to open the box.

We ended up opening the box for her. She was thrilled with her new doll.

We were thrilled with her. She was proudest and happiest to have what she thought was a box of wipes. We almost felt guilty for not getting her a box of wipes. Her eyes almost lost a little of their shine when she realized she had gotten a doll instead of the wipes.

After a busy day of cooking, playing with new toys and eating, her Daddy and I finally stumbled to bed. I heard him muffle a cry as he turned his back to me. I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking the same thing.

Siobhann's first two Christmas' had been brought to her by total strangers, known as The Salvation Army. After her Daddy's accident, he had been unable to work. I hadn't been able to work for over three years due to my failing health. In the years before that, we had gladly taken the paper stars or paper angels off the trees at the stores and helped when we could. It then was our turn to get the much needed help.

"She was so thankful for the wipies," he finally managed to say.

"I know." There was no sense in fighting the tears now.

"She's practical like your are," he told me, holding me close. He took a deep breath. "How many kids do you think got wipies and diapers for Christmas?"

I didn't want to think about. The answer was "too many," even if it had only been one.

I'm a softie and so is my husband. Even the kids on Santa's naughty list deserves one toy for Christmas. Yet, there will be so many, too many, without any presents at all. Wipes and diapers, if they are lucky.

Will you please do me, my husband and Siobhann a favor this year? Consider it your Christmas present to us, if you would please. Take a star or angel off one of the trees you see in the store. Take a gift card to you local charities; no amount is too small. If that isn't possible, drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket. Maybe take a can of food or a loaf of bread to your local food bank or other charity that helps people in need at Christmas. If that too is out of your budget, whisper a little prayer for those who are in worse shape than you and I. And, be thankful for what you have, no matter how little it is.

I'm sure there are other boys and girls who will be thrilled for a box of wipies. Think of how they will feel to find a toy or much needed shoes or a coat. Think of how thankful the parents will be. It's a little thing to do, but no gift is ever too small when it given from the heart.

Shameless Plug

I'm so proud I could pop! Siobhann, my four year old daughter, just started her very first blog. Yes, a four year old is blogging on the internet. It all started quite innocently...

For the past few weeks, Siobhann has been pretending to have a website and a blog like I do. She would take "photos" with her toy camera and type about them on a Word document. I didn't think too much about it. She was having fun with it. Then, I got to thinking...

"Siobhann could do this for real." Seriously. Whatever she wrote couldn't be as bad as some of the stuff adults are putting out there for all the world to see. She loves to tell me and her Daddy stories. Why not put them on the internet?

I started the blog for her. I chose a simple background and gave it a title. I write a few little things in the sidebar, explaining the overly-simple concept. Siobhann chose the colors for the blog and wrote her first story.

Then, she wanted to take pictures. We made it clear that we (her Daddy and I) would never allow a picture of her or of us to be posted. I told her there were people who weren't very nice that could do bad things with them. A little tough to explain freaks, weirdos and sickos to a four year old, but I thing we did okay.

Just like her Momma, Siobhann is hooked on blogging. I think she may have a knack for it. Her stories are good and so are her photos. Okay, I am prejudice.

I have yet to see anything like this on the internet. Have you seen a blog completely designed and written by a not-quite five year old? She's doing almost everything herself. I type for her, word to word. I download the photos and crop them. That is it. She is doing everything else. She's even learning how to type, crop photos and other "blogging" skills. Well, SEO will come later.

Wouldn't it be something if her blog took off? That thought never occurred to me until I started getting wonderful feedback from my Twitter friends. They seem to love the idea. Siobhann even has two subscribers, me and one of my Twitter friends.

I'm excited. We are adding this to our home school curriculum. She's learning all sorts of computer things as well as writing, spelling and grammar. This is beyond super cool!

The best part is I'm seeing a side of Siobhann that is new to me. She's very picky about her writing. I can't change a single word. There are a lot of "veries" and flat adjective like big, but it is still good writing for someone her age. I can't wait to see her develop as a writer.

I so want to use a warning to all bloggers, including myself. "Be careful; there's a new kid in town. And, she's good. She's only going to get better."

That's my shameless plug. Check her blog out for yourself. Subscribe, if you like, so you can keep up with whatever is going on in her head. Just like me, you never know what she might right about.