April Moments

Maybe, just maybe, telling the story is just as important as the story itself

Nothing is everything

At some point in my life, I learned that the 12 days of Christmas begin Dec. 25 and continue until Jan. 6. Therefore, it is appropriate to say “Merry Christmas” during that entire span.

I shared this little bit of information with Elliot, and each morning, he has been updating me on which day of Christmas it is. I love that he is still in the Christmas spirit. It is especially endearing to me because I adore Christmastime and want to hold onto its ambiance as long as possible.

It is with all this in mind that I would like to share with you yet another heartwarming lesson from a book that is appropriate for children.

Gift of Nothing

Photo courtesy of thegiftofnothing.com

The newest book in my children’s collection is called “The Gift of Nothing.” Written by “Mutts” comic strip creator Patrick McDonnell and published in 2005, the book features Mooch’s search for the perfect gift for his best friend, Earl.

There is no mention of Christmas or any holiday or a birthday in the story; only that, “It was a special day.” Mooch the cat ponders what to get Earl the dog. “He had a bowl. He had a bed. He had a chewy toy. He had it ALL. … What do you get someone who has everything?”

After more thinking, Mooch decides to give Earl the gift of nothing. “But in this world filled with so many somethings, where could he find nothing?” Reading that line let me know that Mooch is a pretty insightful fellow.

Mooch recalls his caretaker Frank saying there is “nothing on TV,” but “as far as Mooch could tell there was always something on TV.” And everybody is always doing something, no matter how often the neighborhood girl Doozy complains there is “nothing to do.” Just then, Mooch’s guardian Millie returns home from the store and announces, “There was nothing to buy!” So Mooch dashes off to do some shopping.

“Mooch looked up and down every aisle. He found many, many, many somethings. The latest this, the newest that, but as far as he could tell, nothing was not for sale.” I love the author’s use of the word nothing, as if it is a proper noun.

After returning home, sitting on his pillow and staying still, Mooch finds nothing, even without looking for it. He retrieves a box and puts nothing in it. Unhappy with the box’s size because “Earl deserves more than this,” he gets a bigger box.

When Earl opens Mooch’s gift, he says, “There’s nothing here.”

Mooch agrees and replies, “Nothing but me and you.”

“So Mooch and Earl just stayed still and enjoyed nothing and everything.”

During your holiday season, perhaps you shopped for an Earl – someone who seems to have everything. I have struggled with that in the past.

In my previous post, “Christmas traditions and changes,” I mentioned that we cut back this holiday season. While that blog mostly focused on the lack of traveling, there were other ways we downsized. In the past, we purchased gifts for my brother and sister-in-law’s children, and they bought gifts for our children. With my older niece and my nephew, especially, I started to have a difficult time knowing what to buy them.

This holiday season, I proposed to my sister-in-law a new approach: “What if we did something together, rather than buy gifts? We could go to a movie or go bowling or ice skating.”

She liked the idea, so we took the three older cousins – Riley, Andrew and Elliot – to see “Frozen.” What an excellent movie, by the way! The little girls stayed with their Mimi and played, played, played. After the movie, all five cousins hung out. It was fun to just be together, to hear the kids talk and laugh.

Of course, going to the movie theater, where we ate popcorn and drank Cherry Coke, certainly cost more than nothing. But it was the togetherness – the “nothing but me and you” – that meant the most to me.

As I reflect on this holiday season – a season with less traveling, less money spent and less stuff – I have rediscovered the gift of being together. The gift of nothing really is everything.

Originally published on ovparent.com.

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