Gifts of time and fun

The Covington News - - Local news -

’Twas the day af­ter Christ­mas, and all through the house, wrap­ping pa­per and empty boxes lay strewn all over the floor.

But wait, don’t throw out the boxes.

It may not be cold enough for snow, but three boxes make a great Ge­or­gia snow­man, col­ored all over with new mark­ers and crayons and dec­o­rated with win­ter clothes we prob­a­bly will not need to­day any­way.

My aunt gave her grand­sons a huge mon­ster of a rid­ing toy, so I plan to spend to­day mak­ing a fort out of the box with my 3 and 4-year-old cousins.

Why is it that the boxes get more use than the gifts some­times?

I read an ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle on cnn.com this week, “When toys were mag­i­cal without be­ing pricey,” by Christy Oglesby.

She looked back on her fa­vorite gifts and in­stead re­mem­bered things like her grand­mother crawl­ing un­der the ta­ble to color.

Now ob­vi­ously, I’d have been dis­ap­pointed if Santa did not bring plenty of toys each year, but I hon­estly can’t re­mem­ber too many of them.

I do re­mem­ber, how­ever, a cousin and I rid­ing Power Wheels in cir­cles through our grand­par­ents’ house one Christ­mas.

My aunt rode the Pink Pig at Rich’s with us one year, and the lit­tle girl in front of us said we were go­ing to be stuck.

My dad put to­gether bikes back when they still came in 1,400 pieces in­stead of mostly “pre-as­sem­bled” as we waited anx­iously, won­der­ing why he couldn’t work faster.

For weeks af­ter Christ­mas and Easter I would show off the notes Santa and the Easter Bunny had scrawled out in re­sponse to my let­ters.

All year long, it was not the things them­selves I re­mem­ber, but the peo­ple who played with each one.

I feel like a big kid shop­ping for my friends’ and cousins’ chil­dren, al­ways pick­ing out things I can’t wait to share, but per­haps that’s what is most im­por­tant any­way.

Now that I’m off on hol­i­days, there will be even more time for play­ing Play-Doh in the floor, eat­ing imag­i­nary food, paint­ing sun catch­ers, assem­bling the Princess puz­zle for the 4,567,873 time, or col­or­ing with new crayons.

Like­wise, I re­mem­ber my 4-H leaders for the same rea­sons — not the ma­te­rial things they pro­vided, but the sheer amount of time each in­vested in 4-H’ers.

Over the last year, I hope we’ve made a lot of those mem­o­ries in New­ton County 4-H.

At District Project Achieve­ment, every­one pitched in one night to out­fit and pre­pare five retro back up singers for Mary’s district of­fi­cer cam­paign skit.

Last sum­mer at Rock Ea­gle, the girls in my cabin were des­per­ate to win the clean cabin award, so the last day I let them put ev­ery suit­case, pil­low, and shoe in my room so that there wasn’t a sin­gle thing to be messy.

(We still didn’t win, but the “Where is your stuff!?” com­ment left by coun­selors with our green star made their day.)

At Wilder­ness Camp, we crawled and slid through mud and — well, I don’t want to know what else — on a four and a half hour cav­ing trip, then rolled out our sleep­ing bags for some well de­served sleep right in the cave.

The next day we had to de­fend our raft from in­vad­ing pi­rates from an­other raft along the Ocoee River.

Later that night, af­ter I wor­ried that my mid­dle school girls would be cow­er­ing in the cabin af­ter camp­fire ghost sto­ries, I walked into a com­pletely dark cabin only to find them all gath­ered around the door ready to scare me. (It worked.)

At the club of the year field trip to the skat­ing rink, Kim (my co-worker) and I en­tered the races. She cheated, but I think they loved that even more.

At the Christ­mas pa­rade, when the judges asked to speak to the per­son in charge of our en­try, I had to stand up from a pile of kids adding or­na­ments to each oth­ers’ hair, with five pony tails adorned with shiny things on my own head.

Even this week, as we worked for hours on port­fo­lios, we in­ter­rupted for a game of Life, spin­ning our way around the board in our lit­tle cars and nam­ing two the 4-H bus and 4-H van.

It’s been a fun year, and I’m al­ready looking for­ward to 2009.

But to­day, I need to go work on this card­board fort and build a few more mem­o­ries from this year.

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