Becoming an Instigator “Elf” at Christmas

Dear Reader:

As I ride down the main entrance into my neighborhood I automatically look to see if the “red tree” on the right still has its beautiful scarlet leaves on it! The other day when I saw that it survived the fierce Friday/early Saturday morning rain storms…I was so happy…maybe this beautiful red-leafed tree will make it to Christmas …still in all its glory! (The rest of the trees on the street are empty of leaves with only bare branches to welcome Christmas.)

It makes me wish somehow (that this tree) as the leader or instigator of the last beautiful red-leafed trees…  had been able to show the other tree leaves how to keep red on their stems and in their leaves until Christmas arrived.

Today we envision negative connotations when we hear the word “instigator”… meaning in most people’s eyes…”troublemaker.” But the word, in the dictionary, simply means…a person who brings about or initiates something. Example: “He was not the instigator of the incident.” 

It could be a good or negative incident the instigator is instigating.

In All I Want for Christmas Quinn Caldwell came up with this creative thought for mid-Advent season.

I had this one poor teacher in elementary school who yelled a lot. She had a whole list of words she used to scold us: tattletale, daydreamer, wise guy, etc. But the worst thing she could call you was “instigator.” 

She would jab you in the chest with a finger and spit that word at you like it tasted bad. It meant you ended up sitting inside the classroom watching the rest of the class play at recess without you. 

In her mind an instigator was the one who got all the trouble makers and bullies to ruin her life and send her to the teachers’ lounge for a lot of furiously smoked cigarettes.

One day in church I heard our pastor say that the government leaders all accused Jesus of being an “instigator”…of wanting to start a revolution to form a society where equality reigned socially, economically, religiously and culturally. 

My thoughts immediately returned to that teacher of old…and I laughed out loud in church…just imagining her face turning red if I told her that Jesus was considered a leader, an instigator…and He turned out pretty good..without missing recess :)!

Acts 5:31: “God has exalted Jesus to his right side as leader and savior”…(the word for leader meaning instigator…as would His apostles being accused of when sharing their faith and showing their courage. Then the followers of the original apostles became instigators to spread Christianity…right on down to today.)

Quinn Caldwell concludes: That leads us…to the question, have you done enough instigating recently to make that teacher of mine mad at you? If not…why not?

While coming home early Sunday morning from Mt. Pleasant to Summerville to make church service…the large blinking interstate signs were warning about high windy conditions on the bridges and reminders not to text and drive. (Besides the number of deaths on SC’s highways to date.)

What if…we instigators took some of these tax paid highway signs and had them blinking in red and green this time of year? Signs that might read:

Have you given one gift or toy away today…if everyone did…no child would wake up disappointed Christmas morning? 

God gave us two hands…one to climb..the other to use pulling the person behind us up a notch for each of our notches. 

Let’s take time to create a snow globe of a world living in harmony for our children…a globe that shakes things up for everyone.  Love, equality, compassion, dignity prevail.Then give the globes away to everyone!

There’s a place for all of us…peace on earth…if we make it so…Merry Christmas!

So until tomorrow (Caldwell concludes with this tongue-in-cheek prayer)

God grant me the grace not just to shake up the world on your behalf, but to get the people around me to do it, too. And bless Miss-You-Know-Who; after all those years teaching us, she needs it. Amen! 🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Sights and Sounds of Christmas…Eva Cate came in from a party Saturday evening running fever…she removed herself to the little den to watch television while I kept Jake in the other room.. until John and Mandy returned… Eva Cate’s blurry-eyes gazed at her snowflakes she made…with mom’s help! I gave her “Pinkie” for comfort and warmth.


The sun’s rays slanted beautifully on the neighborhood homes late Saturday afternoon as I drove into Wakendaw Lakes to keep the grandchildren.

Anne’s house was also decorated beautifully for the Christmas Open House…I bought this adorable Sammy the Cardinal miniature frame/jewelry from Anne’s artistic co-hort Donna…it was calling me to take it home. Another “Sammy” wink! Thanks to everyone who came out to acknowledge the artistic endeavors of three lovely ladies!











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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1 Response to Becoming an Instigator “Elf” at Christmas

  1. Lynn Gamache says:

    Hello Becky,
    How wonderful for you to experience this Christmas season without one foot in the air as you lounge in a chair! I know you are so thankful to be out and about and able to care for others. Lovely to hear about the art show and to see the cardinal (brooch?) that you chose. Or is it some other type of jewelry? Whatever, it is very pretty.
    Then must share about one instigator of good that I heard about recently–this story from Eastern Canada where a couple decided that instead of exchanging gifts they would give to others more needy. Thus the wife went to a nearby store and anonymously paid off several of the accounts owing there. Not only were these people touched but so were the sstaff in the store who heard about this Good Samaritan. And now we have the whole Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box plan that was instigated by Franklin Graham and reaches out from The Cove there in N. Carolina to bless children all around the world! We were able to visit the Cove this October and came away blessed and inspired to be instigators of good in our own world even as was Billy Graham and his family as they were inspired by our Father and His Word. Blessings and love, Lynn (from British Columbia, Canada)

    P.S. worth taking time to read: One Solitary Life —you can google it and find it on-line


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