Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The best gifts can't be wrapped

With Christmas just a little over a day away, kids of all ages (from 1 to 92, as the song says) get itchy fingers to know what is hidden in mom and dad's closet, or under their beds (after they do their annual removal of the dust bunnies), or at the neighbor's house. I'm no different. Oh, I've finally outgrown--at least a little bit--the temptation to get up the night before Christmas to sneak out into the living room to see if I could pry a corner open on the most curious gifts and try to figure out what it was. Over the years, my family became experts at REALLY taping their packages shut. I guess that's what made me quit that ritual. Either that, or as I've gotten older, the sleep I might miss is more valuable than knowing ahead of time. Oh, and in case you wondered, I became a real expert at "faking it" on Christmas morning.
I think the most frustrating one was the year I asked Ivan (my other half) for a hint. All he would tell me was "I got you a green apple in a black velvet bag." Well, there were no visions of sugarplums dancing in my head that year. It was more like belly aches from the green apples I'd always been forbidden from tasting when I was growing up. When Christmas morning finally dawned, I anxiously tore the paper off the package I'd been teased by for so long. Inside, sure enough, there was a beautiful green jade apple pin, with gold leaves and a little white pearl. I still have it. I wear it quite often. I love it. And every time I do, I remember all the times I was told what it was--and I was too dumb to "get it"!

Anyway, sometimes a gift of great value drops into your lap when you least expect it, and there is no way to put it in wrapping paper and tie it up with a fancy bow. I got one of those just yesterday. Who was the Christmas fairy who brought it? It was a CNN news broadcast. Queen Elizabeth was announcing that she has "come of age" for her Christmas message to the people this year. It will be aired by Podcast.

I smiled, as I thought that I had beaten the queen to the modern age by about four months. That's when I started my two Internet broadcasts at http://internetvoicesradio.com . One of them airs on Monday evenings at 8:30 ET; it is "Marketing for Fun and Profit." The other one is on Thursday evenings at 9:00 ET; that one is "Vamos a Hablar EspaƱol" (Let's Talk Spanish). I wondered if Queen Elizabeth enjoyed it as much as I do. I hope she did.

Anyway, here's where the gift came in. They announced that the Christmas Podcast could be accessed at Queen Elizabeth's website. They did not give the url, but I figured my good friend Google would solve that problem in a minute or less. I don't know why I had never thought about the fact that Queen Elizabeth would have a website, but I hadn't.
When I got there, I was amazed. The site is loaded with all sorts of links and historical information on not only England, but Ireland and Scotland. There are pdf's of family ancestral charts. There are tales about various kings and queens, as well as their children, their parents, etc. It is a wealth of information. I marked it as a "favorite" in seconds. I just barely scratched the surface, but oh, the fun things I found there. One of the most fascinating parts was all of the links to information that is geared to children. I would love to share this gift with each of you. Just go to http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page1.asp and take your time browsing. It will take hours and hours to absorb all of the information that is there.

And today, I received another gift. There is a fellow writer, his name is Gale Sparks. He goes by "Papa Gale" in the groups we are both members of. He sent a message across to his friends in the group. Now Gale is a very special man. He lives in Tennessee and is a self-proclaimed "redneck." He and his wife are raising a couple of their grandkids. Circumstances don't matter; when they needed him, he was there. He idolized those kids, and this story he told explains why.
One of the kids, his firstborn grandchild, is named Haley, but he immediately nicknamed her "Haybug."
In preparation for Christmas, Gale's wife had taken the two girls to the mall. After they finished their shopping, they went to a little stand to get a pretzel. They sat at a table, and Haybug was distracted, as Grandma and her sister sat and chatted, by a little girl who went up to the counter and bought a small box of "corn." (I am assuming this is the redneck term for popcorn.) She went to a table and the family of four shared the one tiny box of corn. Haybug watched with interest, not saying anything, while Grandma and sister ate their pretzel. Haybug sat there, watching, not touching her pretzel.
After a bit, Papa Gale came to pick the threesome up. As they left the little deli, Haybug went over and gently set her pretzel down on the table for the little girl to have. She didn't say a word, just walked out and went to the car. On the way home, she told the rest of the family about the incident, explaining what she had done and why.

Yes, today I had two Christmas gifts. Neither one cost me a cent. Neither one could be wrapped and put under the tree. But they are among the most valuable gifts I will receive this year--even if it's another green apple in a black velvet bag.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. I am so glad we have become friends through my blog, my various e-groups, and through whatever means we have met. May you find some special gifts of your own, and may you be willing to share them--like the pretzel.


  • At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Billie said…

    As always Janet you brought both a smile to my heart and a tear to my eye. I can't help but wonder when that Pretzel will wind up in one of your Christmas stories.
    And perhaps a Queenly trip through another Scotland.
    Thanks for the thoughts - and yes the best gifts are not easily tied with a ribbon - more like with heart strings.
    Merry Christmas FRIEND!

  • At 1:15 PM, Blogger Star Publish said…

    Thanks so much for your Christmas message, Janet. My bestest Christmas present this year can't be wrapped up in paper either...or if I did, it would take an awful lot of paper. My husband almost died a few months ago. His life and his presence with me is my Christmas present....Kristie Leigh Maguire

  • At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Janet Spaeth said…

    Have a wonderful Christmas! (Tell Ivan the next time he says a green apple in a velvet bag, it'd better be a green Apple computer! Dream BIG!!!)

    The other Janet S

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger Sandy Lender said…

    I also thought you were getting an Apple computer, and wondered why he put it in a velvet bag...

    Great stories, Janet! The best Christmas presents are the ones that the Grinch found down in Whoville, you know. No boxes, no bags, no ribbons, no tags...

    Merry Christmas to you!
    Sandy L.
    "Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

  • At 4:04 PM, Blogger Carolyn Howard-Johnson said…

    You have Ivan trained up better than I have my husband trained. I get Sav-On specials, books on gardening, that kind of thing. No jade and pearls.

    Now, tell me, girl, just how many blogs do you have?

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Award-winning author of This Is the Place, Harkening, Tracings and The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't

  • At 5:06 PM, Blogger Redneck,Renaissance Man said…

    Janet, dearheart...Thank you so much, I love it simply love it...you brought a tear to a rednecks eye.
    I love you dear friend, y'all have a wonderful Christmas

    Love Gale

  • At 7:34 PM, Blogger NightRainbow said…

    Janet--one of the greatest gifts I received this year was getting to know a wonderful friend--you. It is often people can see the beauty and blessings of what is there waiting--yet your pure and gentle heart never fails to do so!!! beautiful post, hon!!

  • At 8:42 PM, Blogger theauthormike said…

    Dear Janet, You were the first person that I emailed from out group and so we share something special to me. Hope that you have the best holiday ever and then get back to work on those books woman.


  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger Linda Austin said…

    Thanks for the message, Janet. And thanks for the link to the Queen's website. We lived in England for a year and LOVED it, so I'll be checking out the site. Have a blessed Christmas.


  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger Dorothy said…

    I'm late in commenting (as usual!), but what a wonderful and warm post. Janet, you have the best Christmas ever. Your heart shows you what kind of person you are...when they made you, they broke the mold. Have a nice holiday, my friend. ;o)


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