http://www.RochelleElisePhotography.com A beautiful photo captured by my amazing sister (and photographer) Rochelle

In the spirit of Christmas – I’d like to ask for something:


YOUR words, YOUR experiences, YOUR stories!

I’m doing a special edition Vlog (video blog) post for Christmas about the spirit of GIVING that is all around us and would love to share some of your most amazing experiences (giving or receiving) during the holiday seasons of the past!

Please reply on the blog (anonymous is fine!)


Or Email me here: BecomingOrdinary@gmail.com

Many blessings, grace and peace this Christmas and in the New Year!


4 responses »

  1. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas (Giving) – Day 6 HAPPY NEW YEAR! | BECOMING ORDINARY

  2. Hmm, okay, my story isn’t specifically about CHRISTMAS giving, but it is about giving, and it did take place only a couple of days before Christmas…and there’s a Christmas song in it…so it counts, right? 🙂

    It’s not a story that happened to me either, except that I was there to witness it. It happened quite a long time ago now, and I’m not even sure why it came to mind when I saw your post, except that I’m spending Christmas in my childhood home this year, and that always brings back memories of the time in my life when I lived here all the time. Anyway…

    In high school I had this friend, K. She was smart and funny and (like me) a compulsive reader, and (also like me) she loved to sing. We were both in the gifted program so we had a lot of our classes together, and we also both sang soprano in the school choir, three lunch hours a week. Music was a bright light and a safe space in the high school jungle, for K even more than for me, I think. By our late teens she had already survived some of the worst that life can throw at a girl. Somehow, though, she still had this fierce, stubborn refusal to care what people might think that I always admired. For instance, when she was in a good mood she had a tendency to burst into song without warning, at full volume…on the street. Or in the stairwells and hallways at school. Heads would turn and she would smile and keep singing. Walking beside her, I often wished I had the guts to join in, even as I flinched with embarrassment.

    So K’s birthday is December 23rd. In our graduating year it happened that this folk trio she had fallen in love with – they were called Odd One Out – were playing a gig at a tiny pub/folk music venue downtown, actually *on* her birthday. So she booked a table (an awesome, grown-up thing to do that I would never have been brave enough to contemplate at the time, and also another example of her kickass “I am going to do what *I* want to do, and screw anyone who doesn’t approve” attitude) and invited a small group of friends, including me, to join her at the show.

    I have actually tried to find Odd One Out in the years since, but I think the group must have disbanded before the internet became a thing…and unfortunately I don’t remember the individual musicians’ names – except that the guitarist/singer was called Doug, and he was a soft-spoken Scot with a lovely accent. There was also a woman with long blonde hair who played the flute, and another gentleman – French Canadian, maybe? They all played several instruments and traded harmony parts back and forth; their repertoire was a mixture of traditional Celtic folk and originals. I saw them perform a few times with K, and I had their one album on cassette. K had become a serious enough fan that the band actually knew her, and often came over to say hi between sets – which was pretty damn cool in my eyes. They were all lovely people – talented, humble and kind.

    So there we were, a bunch of teenagers in this tiny crowded pub on December 23rd, and I was secretly trying to get up my courage to go up and let Doug and the others know that it was K’s birthday, and see if they would mention it from the stage, and maybe get the whole room to sing to her. But I was too shy, and I couldn’t make myself do it. Luckily, it eventually became clear that they already knew. I don’t actually remember if we all sang Happy Birthday at any point; what I remember is Doug at the mic, announcing the next tune as “Silent Night” (because it was Christmas, after all). I think he said something self-deprecating about how none of the band knew the original German words – but, he said, there’s someone in the audience who does. He introduced K as a loyal fan, also a singer…and invited her up to the stage.

    It’ll be exactly 20 years ago tomorrow, if I’m counting right, but to this day I have a vivid memory picture of K sitting straight and careful in a pool of light, facing a dark room full of people, singing “Stille Nacht” in her beautiful clear soprano. I could tell she was nervous, especially at first, but she did it anyway; she was brave like that a lot. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht…Alles schlaeft, einsam wacht…Partway through, Doug (and maybe the others?) joined in very softly, singing wordless, improvised harmony. At the end, there was a second or two of silence before everybody clapped and cheered.

    And, okay, here’s the thing about K: she was (is) one of those people who put up a good front, who kept the bad stuff at bay with humour most of the time and when things were too awful even for that, she just kept going, one foot in front of the other, running on nothing but dogged determination and sheer stubborn pride. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me, from the outside. At this point in our friendship, I had seen her get knocked down (figuratively) a lot. I had also seen good things happen to her, hard-won victories. But moments when joy came easily – when something was given to her, free and clear and safe, no strings or consequences…there hadn’t been many of those, comparatively speaking. Not that I’d witnessed, anyway.

    So: getting to go up on stage and sing that beautiful song with real musicians backing her up, to a friendly audience and big applause…I can’t say for sure how she felt about it, because we’ve never really talked about it, but here’s another thing about K: when she’s happy, really and truly, she busts out this grin that lights up the whole world. I hadn’t seen it very often, back then, but that night when she finished singing and came back to her seat at the table, there it was. She shone with it for the rest of the show and beyond, lit up from the inside like a lantern.

    It was a small thing for Odd One Out to do, maybe – but then again, not. To relinquish the spotlight for a few minutes, to give that moment to someone else…it was generous of them, as performers. More than that: the fact that they had listened to K, in the relatively limited interaction they had had with her up to that point – that they remembered she was a singer, and somehow knew that it would mean a lot to her to be asked to join them on her birthday…that was the real gift. I sometimes think that all any of us want – the thing that’s behind the quest for “the perfect present” at Christmas or any other time of the year – is evidence that other people actually see us and know us, for real and deep down.


  3. The most amazing gift I have had came from my Aunt and Uncle when I was really at a low place in my life, had no food, no moeny and was struggling just to get by. As far as I knew no one in my family was aware of my need. One day my uncle showed up at my door unannounced just before Christmas with a big box full of food, including treats and a turkey. I felt so blessed and the dark cloud lifted. I have since found out that when you give, you always get something in return, and you never do without. Sometimes what you gain, is in the face of the person you have given to. I don’t ever want to forget that day, and what it meant to me, and how my life began to change from that moment. Don’t ever be afraid to give, you will never be sorry, and others will be blessed !!


  4. One Christmas Eve when I was 11 and my sister Heather was 6, she asked me if Santa Claus was real. Not wanting to ruin it for her I said that I thought he was. She was quiet for a moment and then told me she knew he wasn’t bc she had heard our mother tell a neighbour where she had bought a particular toy for our brother the year before and heather knew that the present in question was definitely from Santa.

    So being the big sister I explained that no he’s not real and why parents let their children believe in him while they are little and how much joy it can bring the kids and the parents. She was quiet for a moment and then she asked me not to tell Mum and Dad she didn’t believe until next year because she was their last child and she didn’t want them to feel sad. I remember how sweet she was to think of their feelings rather than showing her new grown up knowledge and sharing a tender look as she opened her gift from Santa the next morning while our parents looked on in happiness.


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