38: Lauren’s Lesson

38: Lauren’s Lesson

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

Lauren’s Lesson

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.

~Stacia Tauscher

Lauren is just a few days away from her eighth birthday. I don’t know why eight seems so much older than seven. Maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten used to seven. Seven is still dirty hands and spilled juice, Cabbage Patch dolls and Junie B. Jones books. Eight-year-old girls are still an enigma. Chances are, eight will still be dirty hands and Cabbage Patch dolls... but I don’t know that for sure yet.

Seven means she is still invested in the magic of Santa. She knows that a jolly man in a red suit climbs down her chimney and leaves a present or two behind because she’s a sweet little girl who tries her very best not to be naughty all year long.

A few days ago, a crumpled note showed up on my refrigerator. I didn’t pay it much attention at first because with Lauren this is a daily occurrence. She’s a creator. An artist. She likes to leave notes and cards and paintings and crafts all over the house for the rest of the family to discover. It took me a few days to notice that this note was different. It wasn’t adorned with sequins or any other “bling.” No pipe cleaners glued to the edges. No carefully cut snowflakes framing the words. It was, simply, a note to Santa Claus.

Dear Santa,

These are the things I would like for Christmas this year.

1. NO MORE WAR! PEACE PLEASE!

2. A goldfish

3. A Furby

4. A nice day with my family

5. A stocking for the dogs

6. A tablet for my brother Ryan. He really really wants one.

Love Always,

Lauren Bietz

At first I thought, “Aw, she wrote her note to Santa this year. That’s nice.” And then I took the note down and brought it to “the box.” You know “the box” — the black hole where Mom puts the things she wants to keep forever. On my way up the stairs, I read it again. And then I sat down in the middle of the staircase and read it again.

My seven-year-old girl has six things on her Christmas list. And four of them are not gifts for herself.

It was at that moment that I realized I really needed to reframe my thoughts about Christmas. It’s not about making things perfect. It’s not about parties and wrapping paper and shiny gold bows. It’s about the gifts you already have right in front of you. Honor those gifts. Give thanks for all the days you’ve spent with those gifts and ask, humbly, for more days. Have compassion for those around you who are missing some of their gifts. Invite other gifts into your life every day.

If I can learn these things from one tiny seven-year-old cherub with dirty hands and juice stains on her T-shirt, I wonder what she’ll teach me when she’s eight.

~Kara M. Bietz

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