Shopping, greed, debt and exhaustion. Does this sound like Christmas to you? That’s what I see, more and more each year. My children don’t KNOW Christmas. Not the REAL Christmas. Until it’s time for stealth mode, that is.
Stealth mode? Let me explain.
My father taught me the best way to give is to give anonymously. If you give for the sake of getting credit, it just isn’t giving, is it?
I thought about this a lot after my father died. There had to be a way to pass this lesson down to my children. And then I came up with stealth mode.
Every Christmas Eve we make something sweet and delicious. Pie, cookies, fudge… something different every year. We wrap up four plates, go to Mass and then wait until dark. The children then gather, find the darkest clothes they can and make their plans.
“I’ll go to Mrs. Henniker’s house. You go to Josh and Karen’s!” “Wait, I want to do the Bailey’s!” and so on. In the meantime, the Bailey’s have family going in and out and in and out and IN AND OUT of their front door. There is hardly a moment when the porch is unattended. THAT is the hardest house.
And so it begins. The lights go out in every room. My mother and I peek through the bedroom window, waiting to see one of the kids slide across the street with a plate in hand. We laugh. We bite our nails. Motion lights fly on and we scream as the children go house to house, sneaking plates on to neighbor’s porches.
And the Bailey’s… oh MY. I’ll never forget seeing my middle son climb in complete stealth mode up the side of their porch. Then over the railing that has been wrapped with lights and evergreen. And finally, on his belly as he slithers the plate to the front door. Then it’s RUN! RUN! RUN! Flying back over the railing, through the grass, across the street … all the while I am laughing so hard I pee in my pants. It’s just THAT GOOD.
The children have been taught exactly what to say during the next day’s stealth mode aftermath. Here comes our elderly Mrs. Henniker, going right for the youngest. “Elizabeth! Did you get something on your porch last night?” (Her OWN stealth mode eyes shoot towards me, absolutely SURE my little one may slip.) But my daughter looks right at her and says EVER so believingly, “YES! We got BROWNIES this year! Who do you think it IS!?” We shoot, we score.
Sadly, Mrs. Henniker died this year. There will be one less stealth mode trip on Christmas Eve night. But at least she will now know the truth, and won’t be able to thank us, which will make her MAD. Again, we shoot, we score.
So tomorrow night, before Santa arrives and Jesus is born, we will be giving anonymously. We will be a team. We will plan, we will laugh and we will make Christmas REAL.
Merry Christmas to everyone, and may God bless you all.