7 Quick Takes Friday (A go-to Christmas gift, Clone Trooper birthday parties, a surprise holiday guest, and more)

— 1 —
I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping, and I think that’s because I never officially started. Most years John and I sit down and make a list of everyone we need gifts for, and then we work from that. This year we never did that. We have Rubbermaid tubs in the basement, and whenever I buy something I toss it into a tub.
If this were an effective method, I wouldn’t be wondering how many more days I can enjoy free two-day shipping. And I certainly wouldn’t be snatching up gift cards for my son’s teachers at the local pharmacy.
The good news? I’m not stressed. I’m not worried at all. I have a new perspective this year, and I realize that it really doesn’t matter. Our loved ones will get gifts. The ones who don’t get them on time will understand. Christmas will come whether or not we’re ready, and since we are just getting around to putting up the tree now, we’ll still be enjoying it for St. Patrick’s Day.
— 2 —
If you haven’t done your shopping yet, and you don’t know what to give, here’s your solution: stomp rockets.

They’re great for children of any age (well, maybe 3 and older), teens, college students, parents, and grandparents.
They require little assembly, no batteries, and they are relatively inexpensive.
If a stomp rocket won’t work, then go for a scoop collander or cookie sheets. That should take care of everyone.
Aren’t you glad you hadn’t started shopping?
— 3 —
We threw a Clone Trooper birthday party for Daniel last weekend. Did I mention that he was turning 4? Now he thinks every day is his birthday, and he has this adorable way of saying, “Well, it is my birthday,” when I suggest that perhaps something might not go his way.
I have to admit that I thought this Clone Trooper theme would be hard to pull off, but we found cardboard masks for all the guests, Clone Trooper plastic rings for the cupcakes, and a good friend—Daniel’s hero—sent him a Clone Trooper figure that is just a little shorter than Daniel is. The figure was such a hit at the party.
Afterward, though, he was rather protective of the cupcakes.
“You didn’t want that last cupcake, did you?”
— 4 —
’Tis the season for Christmas crafts at school, and Leo’s class made gingerbread houses the other day.
I love this photo of him with his house, and so does he.
— 5 —
The week we moved into our house back in October, Leo was chosen to be the “Cool Cat” in his classroom, and he brought home the class’s stuffed cat, Ginger. It was so exciting to have Ginger in our home for a week, and we managed to keep track of her in all the excitement of the move.
Well, Ginger is back—and this time she’s staying until next year.
We have her for this week and next, which includes Christmas, and the week after, which includes New Year’s Eve and Day, and then she’ll go back to school on Jan. 6.
Whew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. We’ll happily document her stay with us, of course, though Leo tells me that Ginger is expecting something from Santa. I certainly hope she sent her letter to the North Pole.
— 6 —

Speaking of the North Pole, when I picked Daniel up from the school the night after we saw a reindeer walking down our street, his teacher—who had not heard the story—pulled me aside.
“Santa must have whispered in his ear last night!” she said. “He was such a good listener today and so helpful!”
Maybe we all need more reindeer in our lives.
— 7 —
At Mass on Sunday, Daniel was watching the priest put the Eucharist in the tabernacle and clear the altar when he said, “Why is the priest the luckiest of everyone?”
“Why do you think the priest is lucky?” I asked.
“He gets to drink the wine,” he said.
Daniel desperately wants to taste the bread and wine, which he knows are Jesus, but mostly he just can’t believe he’s not big enough to do something. As I was carrying him back from receiving Communion, he was watching me closely.
“Is it good?” he asked.
“It’s the best,” I whispered.
No wonder he thinks the priest is the luckiest. And maybe he’s right.
Read other quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary blog.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.