This was originally written in December of 2014 as part of my “Cooks Corner” column. I have edited it to make it more “timeless.” However, I left my grandchildren’s ages the same as they were at the time. Vivian is 12 and Liam is 11 as of this “edition.” And I have to say that we laughed about the story this year (2022) when she unwrapped a plain cardboard box…
It is difficult to believe that this year is almost history. However, in the grand scheme of things, day follows day and the calendar is what informs us that a new year is just a page flip away.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions. Some keep them; others keep them for a while; some intend to keep them but never really get around to doing so. As for me, there have been years I made resolutions but it is not something I have made into a habit. And of all the years I have chosen to do so, there is only one that I can recall with any clarity.
I have told this story before, but since was several years ago, I will provide a mini-version here. My determination for that particular year was to finish what I started. I am well-known for beginning things and never completing them. I have several UFOs (unfinished objects) in various stages – from simply purchasing the materials needed to all-done-but-the-handwork. On that New Year’s Day, I decided to clean out an attic closet. I was doing fine until I found a live bat – thankfully it was asleep – and it was only my resolve that kept me going. Work went much more slowly after the bat incident; I was much more cautious when moving things around.
If I were to make a resolution for the upcoming year, I think it would have to be to learn to look at things from a different perspective; to re-train my thinking to view life with more anticipation than resignation. I will readily admit (though not proudly) that the loss of my husband in October of 2012 has left me struggling to see my purpose. I have never lost my faith in the Lord, nor have I felt utter despair. I know my God will see me through; He has been very faithful. It is when I focus on myself (which is all too often) that I get bogged down in a self-pity party that goes on and on and on.
Maybe I should learn a lesson from my grandchildren. 4-year-old Vivian chose a ballerina theme for her birthday party. When trying to figure out something I could make her for Christmas, I remembered a pattern I had purchased many years ago; it had several choices of dolls or animals. I had intended to make a doll but one of the selections was a ballerina pig and I decided to make it instead.
The pig turned out to be really cute and I even had leftover netting from a prom dress I made for my niece for its tutu. Then came the time to wrap it up. I had a cardboard box that was just the right size. I lined it with tissue paper, put the pig inside, covered it with more tissue, and sealed it shut with tape. Then I wrapped the box and put it under the Christmas tree.
On Christmas Day, Vivian eagerly tore the wrapping paper from her gift. There in front of her was a plain cardboard box. I wish I could describe the disdain and disbelief in her voice as she questioned disgustedly, “I got a BOX for a present??!!!” We convinced her that maybe she should open the box to find out what was inside before she decided she did not like what she saw. Joy was restored when she discovered the ballerina pig.
Liam is 6 months younger than Vivian (he will be 4 in April). When he discovered a plain brown box in one of his packages, he declared with anticipation, “I got a box, too!” and proceeded to open it to see what treasure he would find inside (it was not a ballerina pig). Liam was willing to see beyond the obvious, realizing that the box was just the container for his real gift.
Vivian’s reaction had us all laughing and has been fun to tell about. I also find it quite amusing that later that afternoon she was sitting in one of the boxes pretending it was her airplane. Liam saw that Vivian’s box contained something special, which could have been a reason for his optimism. With that said, I am still going to use their reactions to make my point.
There are times in my life when my focus, like Vivian’s, is on what I can see – a plain old box. Instead of discovering what is in the box, I decide to whine about having it in the first place. I did not choose it, nor do I think I want to own it. However, it is mine no matter what. There may be something inside that I would really like if I chose to look, but all I can do is complain about the fact that it is now in my possession.
I need to be more like Liam, who realized that his Grammie would not give him an empty box. He was eager to see what was inside, knowing that is what counted. I should follow his example and look to see the good things God has in store for my life instead of focusing on what I don’t have. That would be a great New Year’s resolution!