This Christmas Unwrap Life and Make it Your Best Present

Dear Reader:

My son-in-law John came and picked me up after lunch Thursday to take me back to his house to help Mandy with the children (getting them off to school Friday) and helping out Saturday. He is at a conference in Nashville this weekend.

Since December 1 was Friday “Buddy the Elf” was supposed to arrive and Mandy was ready. Eva Cate and Jakie were so excited looking for him Friday morning and there he was in the kitchen. He had left a message too. *He returned yesterday  (after reporting to the North Pole to Santa) and appeared in Eva Cate’s chair to read Christmas stories to the toys. Buddy is a sweet elf but very sneaky!

I am not going to get into the bad mojo I have been experiencing much in this blog…but I haven’t had my car since the Friday before Thanksgiving. I took it in after the Thanksgiving holidays (shop was closed until then) last Monday thinking it would be ready that afternoon…and Wednesday I was told it looked like it needed a new computer and then it would have to be programmed so the earliest I could get the car would be probably at the end of next week. (And you don’t even want to estimate the cost and labor…Bah Humbug!)

I spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about commitments and how to get to all the places I needed to go, whether it was time to let my old car go… either way my Christmas budget (and regular one) was shot to smithereens. These thoughts kept me up and feeling down and restless.

It helped going to Mandy’s to play with the grandchildren…it kept my mind off my worries. I was feeling like the Grinch was playing some terrible Christmas game with me…letting ovens, commodes, and cars break down all at the same time.

But watching the children squeal over Buddy the Elf each morning renewed my Christmas spirit and I thought about all the blessings I have just been given…especially in my on-going fight against breast cancer. Problems that deal with money must always take a back seat to issues that deal with life. I am alive and happy and nobody is going to steal my joy…especially now at Christmas!

When Jo sent me this story from Lisa Beamer (widow of Todd Beamer…hero of the mutiny on the United Airlines 93 kidnapping on (9/11/01.) It re-enforced my thoughts on the priceless wonder and beauty of life…that comes free of charge every single day.

Jo Dufford, thank you so much for sending me this story…I vaguely remember it when Lisa first told it but I really needed to hear it again. Perfect time…angel!

(Story taken from a Good Morning America interview with Lisa Beamer in 2002.)

Lisa Beamer is the wife of Todd Beamer who said ‘Let’s Roll!’ and
helped take down the plane that was heading for Washington D. C. during the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks.

Lisa said it’s the little things that she misses most about Todd, such as hearing
the garage door open as he came home, and her children running to meet
him. She’s now the Mom of a beautiful little girl, Mary.

Lisa recalled this story: ‘I had a very special teacher in high school
many years ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week
after his death, she shared some of her insight with a classroom of
students. As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the
classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things
aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of
reflection on her face, she paused and said, ‘Class is over, I would like
to share with all of you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but which
I feel is very important.

Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give
of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It
can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is the powers way of telling
us that we must make the most out of every single day. Her eyes, beginning
to water, she went on, ‘So I would like you all to make me a promise. From
now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something
beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be
a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or
it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the
trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls
gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For,
although it may sound trite to some, these things are the “stuff” of life.
The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often
take for granted.

The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our
books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester.

Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an
impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those
things that sometimes we all overlook.

Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn’t do.


As I walked Tigger Friday afternoon around Mandy’s neighborhood we both spotted this beautiful white egret in the nearby pond. While doing some editing these amazing colors burst forth….from where I don’t know…making the photo abstract but dazzling. Life has so many surprises if we just take time to see them…and let reality become a fantasy land.

Yesterday my mechanic called and said he kept trying to make sure there couldn’t be something else wrong in stead of  a brand new computer for my car and he found it…not sure exactly what it was…still relatively expensive but certainly not in the same category as a new computer. God is good! Tomorrow morning I get to pick my car up finally…my Christmas (birthday, Easter, etc.) present to myself. So happy to have a car again!

When John picked me up Thursday afternoon…he entered Fall decorations at my house (still with lots of pumpkins) but by the time I reached his home…Christmas had arrived! It was a quick seasonal transition!

 Tommy brought me home yesterday (thank you so much) and even stopped and helped me pick out a Christmas tree so I could use the rest of the weekend to start packing up  pumpkins and pulling out Christmas! I spent last night working on the transition. Will show you some finished photos tomorrow…but here is the tree before the ornaments.

Tommy got the tree in, set up the stand, put lights on it; all in about half an hour. This tree was just meant to be. Will show you the final results tomorrow…but here is the tree before the trimming. Sleek and soon to be shining with ornaments twinkling off the lights.

 So until tomorrow…Please keep reminding me Lord to keep my eye on the beauty of the world you gave us to enjoy every single day …with no payment plan needed! Never let me forget each moment of life is the best present of all!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Congratulations Clemson! So proud of my Tigers!



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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5 Responses to This Christmas Unwrap Life and Make it Your Best Present

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    Didn’t realize you were without wheels. If I can ever play taxi for you in the daytime, please just call. Glad you are getting your car back. Congratulations, Clemson! Go Tigers, all the way! (And this is from someone who graduated from USC.)


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Jo…you are too sweet. I must admit a “wheel-less” life is a challenge these days but thank you God for friends and neighbors who made it all work! Thanks for your Tigers congratulations, especially from a Gamecock….that’s why i love your wonderful self.


  2. bcparkison says:

    Cars! a necessary evil.


  3. Kathy Worthington says:

    It’s sad how dependent we are on cars and we like to think they’ll last forever! I remember the time I proudly went into the credit union to make my last payment and came out to a dead battery! And I especially love your message about appreciating the littlest of things – it’s spot on!


    • Becky Dingle says:

      That is too funny about the dead battery…but an old car with too many heart resuscitations makes for difficult decisions…especially at Christmas. But it has forced me to stay home and see the beauty around me and walk every day…much healthier for the lack of wheels.


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