There are times as a parent when you realize life will step in saving you at the last minute, when you are at the end of your rope. Granted, it may not be what you hoped for, but as wisdom says, “God does hear all prayers; he just chooses not to answer some of them.” Personal growth is found in that unanswered prayer, a blessing we give ourselves. I had this confirmed in the early 1990’s as I struggled to give my three girls the best life I could. I was a well paid executive, but divorce had hit us hard economically.
That first Christmas alone, I was unsure how I would pull off the lists Santa was getting and Mattel and Nintendo profit sharing would benefit from. In December that year, I took the girls to lunch and as we ate, I noticed large rocks in the parking lot landscaping. My writer’s brain sparked an idea. I “borrowed” 9 of the nicer rocks when the girls didn’t see and we headed home. Once home, I sat my little cherub faces down and presented each of them with 3 rocks. You would think this was odd, but actually I love rocks, so they were not particularly taken back by their mother’s odd gesture.
Explaining Santa was unable to accommodate all lists that year; he was sending 3 gifts early in the form of rocks. Each girl had to take care of her rocks in the coming weeks. Christmas morning they would become something special they wanted. Ok I was impressed with the concept and they were thrilled! I had no idea how serious they would take the mission. In the weeks that followed, those rocks ate with them, bathed with them and had better living accommodations than at most five star hotels! It also gave them something to occupy their time with, other than countless holiday commercials for buying Christmas and arguing with each other, as that age is required to do per their employment contract as children.
Once I purchased gifts I could afford, I felt good. There was no pressure I would fail. I knew we had each other and gifts were an extra touch along with cookies, the tree and our favorite nativity set which incidentally had two baby Jesus figures. In those days, my youngest explained he was a twin (that is another blog!). Life was blessed and I was looking forward to Christmas, even though divorced and alone I knew there would be nothing in my own stocking – little did I know!
The night before Christmas each girl gently placed her rocks under the tree. They said goodbye and even shed a tear, wondering which rock would turn into what gift on their list. The moment was one I will always cherish. After they went to bed, I placed two gifts for each under the tree and 6 rocks went into my car for a return to their fast food landscape project.
Christmas morning, paper was torn and screams of delight as each discovered what they had been given. Then excitement faded into a blur of mere happiness, as they saw a lone rock for each of them. I wasn’t sure what would happen next, but wish I had it on film! As if on cue, each girl began to acknowledge which gift wasn’t there and WHY!
“That WAS my Barbie dream house, but I know it isn’t there because I took mom’s nail polish and spilled it.” “Mine was supposed to be a Sega but I know it is because I lied to mom.” “I knew I should have told mom you didn’t really kick me.” My mouth hung open as all these confessions came forth. Here they were, not upset they weren’t given more gifts, but admitting to the bad they did that year, knowing it had consequences and they were sorry. Their confessions were matter of fact in the moment and once done, they were happy with what they had and dashed off to play.
Short of my grandchildren’s first Christmas, that was the best memory I will ever have. I learned that morning I was a good mother; my daughters had morals and values and were being raised as I had prayed and my own stocking had never been as full.
Yes, the best prayers are answered when you find what you need in your heart and realize blessings don’t come with a price tag or fancy wrap. The best ones are along the road of life in the dirt and rocks that our feet follow on our journey.