“So, twenty two, no matter which way you look at it,” she says.
I nod and mildly smile, ” I guess so.” You see, she is the second or third aunt to say this, and I had thought it myself upon the approach of this next milestone. The joke is beginning to taste like yesterday’s Caesar salad. She means well, but birthdays are just not as exciting once you pass the milestones of childhood. So, I smile and we continue on with the last family Christmas gathering of the season.
“I hope you have a special way to celebrate your birthday…” texts a long-time friend. I thank her and think that probably not much will happen. I have only a shadow of a wish, expressed upon that emerald Christmas we had. “I hope I get snow for my birthday.” As an aside, I pray, “God, it would be nice, but I know there are more important prayers to answer.”
I wasn’t disappointed then, to wake up to rain, pouring rain that turned part of the church parking lot into a lake and the rest it into mire. I picked my way quickly inside and back out again. It wasn’t until mid-afternoon that the air turned cold enough and sure enough it came, softly at first and then with howling wind. It was weather worthy of cancelling the evening service so our family time could last a little longer.
I smile and thank God in passing.
Then, another blessing. My uncle inquires a second time about school. (He is a principal.) This time, because of his questions, I admit that this year is tough, not just because of more students but because of varying abilities. I am at the end of my wits for one little guy and have told God so. Waiting not worry works. (I still am surprised that I have managed to wait this time.) My uncle gives advice just in time for me to contact the parents and my school board with the direction the next day.
Speaking of the next day and the next, the weather warrants not one but two snow days! Two extra, surprise vacations. I am more than ready to return to the classroom Wednesday.
The bus arrives with the ring of the bell and my students tumble in with the rest of the school. Puffy coats, snow pants, backpacks, hats, boots, skates, and gifts–Gifts!!!–come in with each child. Smiling shyly they offer their little packages, now three days late because of the snow, but what a surprise!
As I flatten tissue paper after school, I smile silly smiles of glee over the sticky notes, stamps, and stickers I won’t have to buy. I think about wearing the warm socks, gloves, and lotion and arrange some pretty decor on my desk. I replace the Christmas cards with birthday ones on my shelf. Yes, organizing will get me home late tonight, but I don’t mind.
I think that I should really blog about these blessings, share the joy, but there isn’t time.
Friday comes quickly at the end of a short week. The day goes quite smoothly Last recess finds me sliding on the snow pile with my children. I pause to admire a tottery snowman in the making, and go to check out another one. My little student stops me saying that her fellow classmate is talking to my aid about a surprise that I’m not allowed to know about yet. I return to snow mountain sliding and wait for a summons to admire the “surprise” snow masterpiece. It never comes.
We go inside to do art. The children carefully apply pastels–a first–to their penguins, colouring the beak and feet bright orange, when there is a knock.
In walk two grinning moms with a massive cake and two boxes of ice cream. They help us put our art projects together in record time. Then they all sing for me, light some of the sparklers on the cake with the fourth lighter that finally works, and serve the treat.
I write all this down and leave it, planning to return, edit and publish my essay of exuberance.
Just as I am about to return to my computer today my mother calls me upstairs and presents a puffy mailed package. It contains a collection of hymns for the piano. They are not complicated, but tricky enough to challenge this self-taught wanna-be pianist.
As I break in the book, I find that it contains one of my favourite old hymns “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” which I committed to memory with the Memorial Choir. I try to play it. (I do have a habit of picking the hard ones. Behold the accidentals!) Practice will make perfect, eventually.
Does God love surprises? Absolutely! From what I am seeing, He loves them even more than I do. I am just so incredibly blessed! Thank You, Father!!!!