On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Journey gave to you…a 2020 story that made me laugh so hard I cannot help but share it with you this morning.
If you have known me for any length of time, you know that I carry no tenderness of heart for squirrels. I once used them as an example of being a lukewarm Christian to our Sunday School class.
Picture one of them on the side of road as you are driving.
It looks at your car approaching, scans the far side of both lanes, calculates its chances and bolts out across the pavement. Clearly it has done the math accurately and is almost past the dotted line safely when it hesitates.
It stops and looks back from whence it came.
A quick decision to retreat seizes this rodent and then just as quickly it darts back in the previous direction. You can almost see the wheels in its tiny little maniac brain spinning as it does a dance back and forth in front of you.
I likened this to being a wishy washy Christian by saying, “Don’t be a squirrel.”
I never lived it down.
Over the years I have been the recipient of a variety of squirrel statues, magnets, ornaments, you name it.
But in January of 2020, I began an encounter of the squirreliest kind ever.
The first week of January a manilla envelope arrived with calendar page picturing one of these goofy creatures in a snow setting. Scrawled across the top was a Scripture verse.
No name accompanied. No return address.
I ran through the list of people who had gifted me squirrels over the years and laughed thinking of who it could be. I posted this on Instagram.
No one took credit.
In February, a second one came and again we laughed at the st***id squirrel getting Valentines from its little tiny mailbox and wondered who it could be. We tried to decipher handwriting and postmarks, but no clues.
And then March hit.
We met up with a pandemic, and lockdowns, and toilet paper shortages. We prayed for the curve to flatten, washed our hands and adapted to Russ working from home.
The calendar page continued to show up regularly for a few more months and we continued to speculate who it could be and then the Scripture verses ended and I started getting messages about softening my heart toward these critters and with all the turn of events out in the world, it started getting creepy.
One evening as we social distanced with our Covid buddies, we told them about the pages I was getting each month. I jokingly asked if it was them and they shook their heads in disbelief that I would even think they would mess with that noise…no way.
I almost felt bad even considering for a minute that they would be behind this. They asked me a few months later if I was still getting them and we all tried to figure out who it was.
The first week of December, like clock work, the last manilla envelope arrived. This time the words above the photo of a squirrel hanging its Christmas socks on a clothesline declared that soon my mystery benefactor of nuttiness would be revealed.
I was relieved to a degree that whoever it was would finally fess up. I put the last squirrel picture out in the recycling and the questions about who it was out of my mind and pretty much forgot about it.
Then last night, as Russ carried in some pizzas and our dear friends who have been our quarantine team through this whole crazy year of 2020 came in the front door, I was presented a small cardboard box.
Red faced and laughing uncontrollably I was told that the enclosed gift was two years in the making. It had a squirrel address label so I assumed our Reds and Nascar loving friend had somehow found a squirrel in costume or behind its own race car or who knows what for me to hang on our tree with the others they have gifted over the years.
Instead I found a note of confession and repentance because the creeper was he.
Our dear friend had enlisted the help of his wife, family, friends and coworkers when he laid eyes on someone’s squirrel calendar at the beginning of 2019 at work.
He found out she was a fellow squirrel hater who had been gag-gifted with the calendar and so at the end of last year she gave it to him and he has worked faithfully to have different people write me messages.
Postage drops were made from various locations…handwriting was varied to throw me off from the scribbled message to the address on the front. People I know and don’t even know were recruited to write whatever message came to them.
And the pièce de résistance was a selfie of these two crazy dear friends with the December squirrel…magnetized for the fridge door, no less. I have demanded over the years when they travel that I need a selfie to prove they were there.
All that to say, they thought of every detail. They worried sick that they were in too deep. When I think of the effort, the conversations they had as they would leave from us and both laughing and fearing that they had gone too far…I fall into fits of laughter again.
I don’t know what on earth I ever did to deserve the wonderful people in my life. Actually I know, I didn’t do a thing to deserve a one of them.
Our family and friends are grace gifts from God. They are His mercy poured out on our lives that we would have been so richly blessed by each and every one.
These are the treasures that moth and rust will not destroy.
I hope my laughter made you laugh today.
I think these kinds of relationships built on the love of Jesus Christ and received as a gift of fellowship in His Name are what Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians. (I had to at least attempt to stay the course of Advent here, right???)
I pray you have the gift of friends who love you and will go to the greatest lengths to show you in ways you can understand but I I hope more than anything you always see them as God’s fingerprints pressed on the days of your life.