On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 23, 2021:

Christmas shopping is usually pretty simple around the Brendle household. David and I exchange a few gifts with each other, but our needs are few and our budget is limited, so shopping isn’t complicated. We have two teenaged grandchildren – one is a discerning fashionista and one is a computer expert. Since they prefer to choose their own gifts, shopping for them involves choosing the cards in which to enclose their checks.

There are a few families we like to remember with a little something, usually a coffee mug for the caffeine fans, a small ornament for the patio, or a tasty treat to be enjoyed during the season when calories don’t count. This year I had a brilliant idea that would cover all those on my list. In June I had a booth at the Greenville Market, and I met Georgia who makes jams, jellies, and dessert sauces in delicious and unusual flavors. A small selection would be the perfect remembrance without breaking the bank or braving the malls. If only I could figure out how to contact her.

I usually come home from vendor events with a handful of business cards and brochures, but I couldn’t find one from Georgia. Searches of Google and Facebook yielded nothing, and I was running out of time. Finally I contacted the organizer of the Market, and she gave me an email address. I reached out to Georgia, and she quickly filled and shipped all my orders with an efficiency that would make Santa proud.

Of course, there are always last minute additions to any Christmas list. Our Wednesday morning ladies Bible study had our last meeting of the year last week. We decided to go out to lunch afterward, and I wrote out a card for each one. As an afterthought, I thought it would be nice to slip a small gift inside each envelope. I knew I didn’t have time to order anything, so I stopped by Country Flowers and Gifts. They had some beautiful things, but I needed five of whatever I chose, and I couldn’t find anything in my price range. I talked with one of the sales ladies and told her that something like a Scentsy Round would be perfect, but she had nothing that worked.

I was about to leave, resigned to giving empty cards when I was approached by a lady who looked familiar. She was Brigitte Jackson, a local Scentsy consultant I had met when she had held a Facebook fund raiser for a mutual friend. We exchanged contact information, and by the end of the day, I had the gifts I needed.

Brigitte lives about fifteen minutes away from Emory, so delivery was interesting. It was close to dinner time by the time she got home and rounded up her product, so she sent her husband to meet me in the Brookshire’s parking lot. It was dark and rainy when I left the house, and I said goodbye to David with these words – I’ll be back in about twenty minutes unless we get busted for a suspected drug deal. I pulled into the parking lot and stopped beside a dark gray truck with its lights on. A man stepped out from behind it, and I lowered the passenger-side window. He handed me a plastic bag, and I passed him the agreed-on price. Then we both sped away into the darkness. Sounds like a scene I might need to use in one of my novels.

After the shopping adventures came the adventures of the gift exchanges, especially the white elephant gift exchanges that involve stealing of gifts and lots of laughter and fun. The first one was at the monthly meeting of the Friends of the Library. I ended up with a pair of HUGE gorilla house shoes. My feet go into his mouth, and his beady eyes stare up at me as I walk. The shoes are very warm, but I can’t wear them except when I’m sitting down for a while. I tried wearing them in the kitchen, and it was like wearing clown shoes. I kept banging his ears into things and almost tripped a couple of times.

The second gift exchange, also of the white elephant kind, was at our weekly Home Group Bible Study. David got a glass vessel with a cone-shaped spout in a metal holder. The guesses as to what it was ranged from a tea pot to a bong for smoking various types of drugs. My online searches were unsuccessful, so I posted a picture on Facebook and asked my friends to identify it. There were lots of fun guesses, but Murray found the identical item on Ebay listed as a Hand Blown Amber Glass Spanish Porron Wine Pitcher Decanter Wrought Iron Holder. Mystery solved.

All of the shopping and partying has been fun. I’ve laughed more in the last week than I have in a long time, and I expect to have more fun in the next few days as we visit David’s sisters in Louisiana. But I also expect to spend time praising God for Jesus. His incarnation is, after all, the reason behind all the celebration. Merry Christmas!



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