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Apple season

Well, it’s not apple season anymore. I knew that! But as you’ll notice, I’m backtracking a bit with my writing here. That’s cause I wrote this even before having my blog idea! But I think they’re worth a share. On top of it, now in winter there’s not too much out of the ordinary things that happen with me. There’s school and it’s cold outside. It’s sometimes snowing and very often minus 0 degrees which makes me feel even more like doing nothing but staying in bed or drinking hot cocoa. But you don’t want to hear about only THAT! So I kind of like reminiscing and thinking back on the good summer or autumn days I’ve had the past year. So if you don’t mind, here it goes:

We’re apple-picking this weekend to help out our friends!” Dad announced. Oh boy! I mean, Oh no!!! But it’s our sacred, special, do what we like weekend day. And for once, we get to sleep in. But apple picking starts at 7:45 in the morning. Brother gives enough complaints about it so that I don’t have to add to it. I like to let him be the loud one sometimes, that way Dad and Mom think that it’s not such a big deal for me. He sort of speaks up and complains enough for the both of us. I woke up at 8:15 and I find myself still in bed. That means the apple picking was just in my dream? Not exactly. I found a note that read “We left earlier cause we wanted to let you sleep in a bit. Give us a call when you’re ready and we’ll come pick you up. Love Dad and Mom.”

I should have slept in till 12:00. Though I’ve actually never ever done that in my life yet. Might be on my bucket list one day. Today would have been a good day to start… but too late now. After getting dressed and having breakfast we gave Mom a call. She came to pick us up and we were put to work. Rows and rows of apple trees. Hundreds, no thousands, no probably millions of apples. Only one apple-picking machine and we didn’t get to use it. So they had a tractor shake out all the apples from the trees and we had to get down on our hands and knees to pick them up from the floor, into buckets, then buckets into the tractor and the tractor into the pickup truck. I’d pick up a few apples and then I’d taste one or two. Brother would pick up a few apples and then he’d go complain to Mom that he was done.

But it didn’t help complaining; it didn’t change Mom and Dad’s minds that we were there for helping and serving because that’s what friends do. “We don’t have to help out, but we GET to help out!” Mom said. “It’s a privilege.” I remember when one of my friends helped me out with my homework, it did feel good. I helped her with her drawing and she was so happy. I guess that’s the feeling you get when you do things for others.

Oh, back to the apple picking, Mom finally said that we had to fill up as many buckets as our age and if we complained, we had to do one extra bucket for every complaint. “Sorry for you!” she told me. “You just had your birthday yesterday.” It’s true. I had to pick up one whole bucket more than I would have had to yesterday. But it was still worth it, cause I’m sure they’ll be a whole lot of extra things I’ll get to do now that I’m 11. Come to think of it, I got to ride on a tractor, for the very first time. How’s that for starting my 12th year? I don’t know how many of my friends can say that. So 11 buckets full later, plus, a ride on a tractor, then a yummy meal, a whole bucket of yummy apples that we could take home to enjoy… not too bad for a day helping out friends. I’m realizing that I always receive something in return when I do something for others. And come to think of it, I didn’t hear my brother say another complaint after that. I think he enjoyed the meal best!

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My Serving Experience

Can you imagine something not my plan, not my idea, yet still a great idea! Well, I’m kind of getting used to this because I notice that others around me, even those older than me (Can you imagine that?) can still have some great ideas. To start off, Mom and Dad offered their services at church for a full day of helping out, charity type of work. Great for them! I thought. But then when they told Brother and I that we were part of it too, I nearly fainted. Well, maybe not fainted for real, but in my mind, I couldn’t believe I would have to be at church ALL day and serving? I didn’t even know what serving meant. “All the more reason to come!” Mom said. “Instead of me telling you what it means, you’ll get to try it out and experience it for yourself.”

Okay, not my idea of a weekend fun or relax, but… I was willing to give it a try. Brother was a bit more reluctant and did some of his complaining, but he came along too. And, at the end, yes, I was a bit tired, yes, it was a lot of work, but hey, I had FUN! Real FUN! I served soup and drinks, along with bread and cream and napkins. I made a few spills to begin with, was a bit wobbly with the hot soup bowls, but I got better at it. That wasn’t enough so I served some cakes and desserts too. I didn’t want to stop there so I helped sell the clothes. Still more time so I helped sell the other stuff like toys and books. Boy, I felt useful and like I really did something with my day. I learned that service is not just serving soup but serving it with a smile and because I care and want to help out. Selling things to then give money to charity was not just to make money, but to later again be able to give to the poor and the needy. I certainly didn’t expect anything in return because I was there to give, but I did get something in return. I got a free serving of food! Imagine that! And good food it was. Then I got a free headband for the winter and a free sweater and shirt. I was about to pay for it, but the older ladies at the stand paid for me instead. They saw my cheerful giving and serving with the food and it made them so happy to give to me in return.

Most of all, what I got from this, was a really full heart of happiness. I didn’t understand the saying that “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” but I experienced it firsthand. Then I felt love bursting out too. I got home and wanted to keep on giving. I looked through my wardrobe if there was anything I could add to the giving bags.

You might need to try this out for yourself to know what I’m talking about here. Cause I’ve heard about it lots of times before too. I’ve heard others tell me their stories and all that, but it didn’t touch me or make me feel the way I feel today by actually doing it and being a part of it. It’s humongous!

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The Spirit of Christmas

This morning, Dad and Mom, Brother and I sat comfortably and cozy on the couch sipping our hot morning “coffees” (aka: chicory or hot cocoa). Why? Because we’re on holidays and because Dad and Mom work from home so can choose to get up a little later (depending on what time we all go to bed) and have a family breakfast time. We usually only get to do that on the weekend. And this morning we happened to get on the topic of Christmas. Not too early to talk about it, is what I say!

Usually it begins when we decorate, but that happens only after November 17th, after my brother’s birthday. We made it our family tradition to start decorating then since my brother loves it. I guess it should count as part of his birthday gift, don’t you think? Why does he get all the decorations on his birthday or so close to his birthday? Well, I shouldn’t complain. My birthday comes first which means more chance of it being a warm enough day to do something outdoors. That just opens up way more possibilities of some FUN! Although, we rarely do anything outside because we can’t plan that far in advance with the wacky weather forecast. Oh well!

Mom brings up the topic of Christmas, that’s right! But not Christmas decorations that comes after Brother’s birthday. Not the Christmas lights that Dad is planning to prep the plugs for today or tomorrow or the day after. Not even the Christmas cookies that we can start making already 2 months ahead (that’s cause she already talked about that yesterday while I was doing some cookie baking). She talked, and then Dad joined in of course, about the “spirit of Christmas”. She said Brother and I should start thinking about what we’d like to give or make for Grandpa and Grandma for Christmas, since it’s a time for giving after all.

Every year they get us presents, and when we were young we would make them something too. But since we’ve gotten a bit older now, Mom doesn’t do many more arts and crafts projects with us anymore and so we don’t have anything to give them. She said we can either create and make something, which is giving of our time, or get something with our own money, giving of our things. That is a thoughtful thing to do after all. They do so many special things for us throughout the year. The least we can do is get them a Christmas present.

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Our Advent Calendar in Reverse

You know those calendars that are numbered 1-24 and you get to pick something out to eat or to do or to read each day leading up to Christmas? Well, for this year, my mom said we will have a really special one. But when the first day of December rolled around, I didn’t see any calendar at all. Yes, that is some sneaky, invisible calendar. Brother asked Mom a few times at the store for those chocolate calendars and this year why not get one for each of us, not just for us to share? But Mom had her mind made up. “I already have one for this year.” she said.

She came into the kitchen with a shoe box all decorated in wrapping paper and a paper and pen, with 24 numbers written scattered on the paper. What was this for? I wondered quite suspiciously. The box was empty. Nothing at all to pick out of it. “We’re doing our advent calendar in reverse this year.” she said. What? In reverse? How mixed up and reverse is that? I thought.

Mom then explained: “You see, we usually get to pick something out for each day leading up to Christmas. But this year, we will put something in instead. At the end of the month, we will gift this box to someone who could really use a Christmas present.” Ohhhhh! (Notice the Aha! Moment.) So that explained the empty box and the empty paper.

Mom began to write down some things while I enjoyed a piece of pumpkin pie. As she neared number 6 I was eating my second piece of pie. When will this end? I thought. Okay, she stopped at 7 and then passed the paper on to me and Brother, for us to write anything we could think of that we could and would like to give and add to the box. We filled a few more empty spaces on the paper but couldn’t think of anything else. Mom put the paper aside and picked out the first thing on the paper to give and added it to the box. Number 1, done! The next day, we put in the second thing on the list. And on and on we’ll do until the 24th.

I guess that could be okay, filling up a box and on Jesus’ birthday giving it to someone in need. That’s really the best give we could give Jesus after all. Whatever I do for someone else, I’m doing it to Him. That makes it real and concrete, not just imaginary. I told Brother that we don’t really need chocolates every day. We get plenty of good food and even nice tasty treats and desserts or cookies Mom makes us. That’s enough. Many people get nothing at all for Christmas. I guess that kind of makes me a part of their Christmas present, doesn’t it? I like that and most of all that I’m giving Jesus what He really likes on His birthday —my love! And not only in thoughtfulness but also through my actions.