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Today's Family Magazine

Spreading holiday cheer amidst the hustle and bustle of the season

By Stacy Turner

I was out doing some Christmas shopping, and while waiting in line, I noticed an active preschool-aged girl.  She was very busy ‘helping’ by pushing a cart that was much too large for her small self to manage.  She chatted happily to her mom, stopping here and there to pick up an item to show her, wondering out loud who’d like this particular thing as a gift.  Each time she was distracted by a new item, the tiny shopper’s cart veered into the closest display or end cap, knocking other items down in her wake, to her mom’s embarrassment.  As I knelt to pick up the fallen items nearest to me, her harried mom gave me an embarrassed smile of thanks.  I returned her smile, and watched as she quickly collected her packages and left the store with her busy little helper.

I felt like saying, “I see you, mama.  I know you’re worn out, trying to control the chaos of this wonderful, lively child who has boundless stores of energy.  I feel your need for sleep, or even just a few moments of quiet, alone time.  I see your mind working, planning your next flurry of chores and activities around preschool drop off and pickup, nap time and bedtime.  I  know this holiday season is full of things to buy, packages to wrap, cookies to bake -- on top of all the normal, regular tasks like cooking, cleaning, and everything else you do to keep your family running.  I know that while the holiday season is one of the absolutely best times to share with young children, it can also be overwhelming for busy mamas, too.

I remember being in her shoes, trying to pick up some last minute items at the store with my young girls in tow.  They were right beside me at a store, chattering about Christmas, singing made-up songs, and trying to be the first one to find the next item on the list.  Things were going well, as we made good time through the store.  I pushed the cart, grabbing the needed items and tossing them in, and the girls walked right along with me.  I stopped near a rack of shirts, talking time to locate the right size.  As I turned to gather the girls and finish our trip, I realized the chatter was gone.  And so were my girls.  After a few seconds where my stomach dropped and my heart was in my throat, I heard faint giggling coming from the clothes rack next to me.  Before I could reach them, the girls popped out to surprise me.  Unfortunately, they miscalculated and jumped out in front of some poor, unsuspecting older woman, nearly giving her a heart attack.  As I muttered apologies to the poor woman, I collected my wayward kids and made a hasty retreat, certain she’d be upset at being the subject of a sneak attack by my pint-sized perpetrators.

Yes, it’s funny now.  It was probably just as funny then, but I just couldn’t see the humor until I described the scene to my husband much later.  And I’d like to think it was funny to the older lady who received the special surprise from my bubbly, giggling girls that day, but I was too tired and not quite brave enough to stick around and find out.

So why bring this up now?  It’s simple.  While you’re out there in the middle of your own holiday hustle and bustle, don’t miss the holiday spirit.  While hearts, minds, and holiday cards spread thoughts of peace and good will to your mailbox and inbox, don’t forget to share it in your day-to-day life, too.  Who knows –– you may have the chance to share it with a stressed out, over-tired parent.  Or you may find it in the eyes of a tiny shopper.

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