A man from our church pulled me aside on a Sunday morning and gave me a gift.
"I travel for business," he said. "I have points I can't use...I thought maybe you could use them...?"
And I thought about crying right there in front of him because it didn't matter that it wasn't costing him a penny - it mattered that he was giving us something that would build a memory - something we wouldn't have done otherwise because it was Christmas and all our extra money was wrapped up under the tree and IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH BUT WHAT A BLESSING TO BE GIVEN MORE!
This also happened to be our first year of 'The Christmas Pickle'. I hadn't even heard of it until my sister-in-law called me to say she had two and would I like one...and I thought, why not?
I have to admit, I think this is a strange thing - and it was certainly not a parent who came up with the idea...who in their right mind would allow something that means one person gets an extra surprise? Tears on Christmas? No, thank you!
In keeping with another family tradition of special occasion treasure hunts, Liam, who found the pickle hidden in the lower branches, was given a little gift box that contained a clue and it was his option to ask for help or to follow the clues until he'd gathered them all. He made a solo hunt and, with Zander hot in his shadow, he bounced around the house until he'd gathered five little notes - clues written in rhyme on one side and clues in drawings/hints on the other.
Three heads together and they had it figured out. "We're going to a hotel!" Liam squealed.
It's one of our most favorite family events. Where else can you swim at 10:00 pm and eat pizza in bed?
The next day, after sleeping in, we swam again, grabbed a late lunch at the Easton's Center (barf!) and headed to Nathan Philips Square for skating.
I had full intentions to participate. I really, really did! And it broke my heart when I did one lap and thought I was going to die (or at the very least, scream bloody murder) because my feet hurt so badly. I had to sit, pull off my skates and become that lame anti-sport-mom who wears her boots on the ice. BUT, the kids didn't care - Noa held tightly to my arm while we made tentative circles around the crowded rink, the boys zipped by, kept happy by their enthusiastic pro-sport-dad.
This is what it's about. Just this. Together. No matter if we're curled up in a pile on the couch at home or trying something new in downtown Toronto.
I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful that we continue to make memories together.
And I am thankful for the Christmas angel who gave us this gift of time away - together!