A Christmas Story of Gratitude

the van I designed and built

It was December, 2003, and I was traveling from Denver, where I’d been living since June, to Baja to run into the guy for whom I had the hots. That’s a whole other story… I was traveling in my full-sized Dodge camper van that I had gutted and redone in cherrywood, designed to look like a boat.

It was the 23rd and I pulled into a mobile home and RV park outside of Tucson. When I registered, they said the Christmas party was that night and if I came and brought a gift, I got one in exchange.

I found my spot and got settled in with my traveling companion, my 19 year old cat, Maynard. I went through the van, looking for something suitable for a gift, and finally decided upon a Christmas candle I’d had for years but never had lit. Ah, this will work, I thought. I wrapped it in a Viva paper towel, and tied the ribbon with fancy yarn I had for weaving.

While I was looking around, I sent up a prayer to the Universe, asking for something small as a gift because I didn’t have much space available.

Feeling pleased I was offering a suitable gift, I headed off to the party. The first thing I noticed was that everyone that was coming had lavishly wrapped presents, with ribbons and bows. I felt small in comparison. I was ashamed of my gift. I decided to stay anyway.

The next thing I noticed was everyone was drinking wine except me. Ah, wonderful, I said to myself. The only alcoholic in the bunch. I felt singled out and awkward, but I still stayed. I was after that gift I was going to get because it was the only gift I was getting for Christmas that year.

My turn came down the line, and when it was my turn, I went up to the tree and looked for something small. The only small gift left was one the size of a VHS tape. Wonderful, I thought. Perfect. I opened it and it was wine glass stem rings, markers. They were Santas, Christmas trees, a snow man. There were six of them. Ah, great, I grumbled to myself in huge disappointment. The only alcoholic in the bunch and I have to get the wine glass markers!

I was feeling sorry for myself, and although the rule was I could pick someone else’s gift, I noticed no one else was doing that and I didn’t want to be the only one. I walked back to the van, highly bummed. As I sat on the side step of the van looking out at the night, I was filled with self-pity over the gift I couldn’t use. I got up and put it in the trash.

Suddenly, as I was throwing the wine glass markers away, I thought of my cupboard door handles, pulls, of which I had six. The brilliant idea came to me to put the rings on the door pulls for Christmas decorations. Oh, my goodness! My only Christmas decorations! I realized I had gotten something small, as I’d asked for and it was something to boost my Christmas spirit. I can’t tell you how much my heart soared with joy!

My cherished ornaments

These wine stem markers have become an integral part of my Christmas each year, for I now use them as Christmas tree decorations. They are the first ornaments on the tree. And every year when I place them on the tree, I renew my gratitude for all I receive.

I learned some valuable lessons that day I received these wine glass markers as a gift. First, I learned to be more flexible and creative in my thinking about how to use objects.

Second, I learned to greatly appreciate everything I receive, for I never know what the true purpose or use a gift may have. This has been the most valuable of all that I learned that night in Tucson.

Third, I learned that the Universe, God, or whatever that source is in the world, does send me what I ask for. It just might not be what I was anticipating, but it’s what I asked for.

That ends my tale about my wine stem holders. In closing, I’d like to say Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to each of you.

Do you have a tale about Christmas and learning a valuable lesson? I’d love for you to share it with us.



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