When I was 12, our family picked up and moved from South Central Texas to the Texas Panhandle. It had been a rough year or so for my parents. Exactly how rough it had been I'll never know, but I knew enough to know we were starting over. For my mom, the move meant going back home to family.
That year for Christmas, our gifts were few and inexpensive. One of my Christmas presents was a blanket. It was the size of a large throw. It was gray with rows of black and white penguins on it. I remember that I had wanted it when I saw it in the store, but I'm not really sure why.
That was one of the hardest years for my family. With time, my parents built a very successful business in the Texas Panhandle, and over the years we have had quite bountiful Christmases and exchanged many gifts, but few have stood the test of time; few have had so much meaning and warmth as that blanket.
The Comfort of the Blanket
Twenty-four year later, I still have that blanket, simply referred to as "the penguin blanket." I'm sure that at one time it was soft and smooth, but now it's fuzzy, cozy and comforting, but not soft like fleece. It's made of some kind of synthetic fabric. There's really nothing special about this blanket; except for the fact that it is indeed special.
The penguin blanket has gone on picnics to the Arboretum and to outdoor concerts at Lake Harriet. It's the favorite napping spot for my old black cat when he can find the blanket out of the old linen chest. My boys use it to drag toys or each other around the house. It accompanied me to college. When I'm sick or especially chilled, it's the penguin blanket that warms me best of all. And clearly, it withstands washing very well.
My penguin blanket has a lot of value to me, besides being inexplicably warm for an old, cheap, synthetic blanket. The penguin blanket represents the lean times; the times of change; and starting over with friends, churches, schools and communities. It means living near my beloved Mama Meg and Daddy Mack and building a close relationship with them as I grew up and they grew old. It means never giving up; always moving forward; never losing faith; and always expecting positive outcomes. That's how my parents have always lived.
As Christmas nears and I prepare our holiday celebration for my Darling Boys, I have been thinking about Christmases past and the gifts that are truly important in life. When my parents gave me the penguin blanket back in 1986, they had no way of knowing I would still have that blanket 24 years later or that it would mean so much to me. I wonder what gifts I will give my boys that will mean so much to them.
I was inspired to write this post tonight. My plan had been to write about the "plastic reindeer rule," which refers to the separation of church and state when it comes to Christmas decorations on state and local government property. And I will….tomorrow. It's an interesting case and rule, and I wouldn't want you to miss out on that. Over and out…
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