Little things grab my attention and seem to hold my interest for years and years. I think it must have started when I was very small. Aunt Bett and Granny Ninna always wore aprons and those aprons always had pockets.
The pockets held delightful things, a feather from a bluebird, a tiny seed from a pink morning glory, a white pebble instead of the usual brown ones, a tiny red button, a perfectly formed acorn; I never knew what I might find in their pockets.
My grandfather had tiny surprises in his pockets too, a piece of gum, a red ribbon for my hair, and sometimes a penny. It was always something, something little that fit just right into a pocket.
I began to love pockets, I wanted them on all my clothes. I started collecting small things, too. My friend Tish and I collected small bits of colored glass we found by the dusty roadside as we walked to and from school; red and blue and green glass from broken bottles, edges worn smooth by weather and time. As we found those wonderful colors, we added them to our pockets; tiny treasures of colored glass.
Aunt Bett held three white half runner seeds out to me, tiny seeds; she told me to be very careful planting them because from those tiny seeds a big plant would grow. And from the plant there would be many more beans, many more seeds; if I were very careful I’d have enough beans for winter from those three little seeds, and enough seeds for more plants next year. It’s the little things.
One year my mother gave me a tiny elephant, then another one or two. She collected elephants and she knew I loved the tiny ones. I added them to my collection of little things. When I was about 10 we visited Lincoln’s birthplace near central Kentucky. In the gift shop I was told I could have one souvenir. I chose a tiny baby doll, as small as my little finger. It had nothing to do with Lincoln, but it was little and I loved it. Little things.
I graduated from high school with my best friend. We received tiny medals of excellence, his were in Band and Music and mine were in Art and English. I don’t remember much about our graduation, but I still have our medals; little things that are now more than 50 years old.
My daughter was born and sometime along the way I found a tiny glass kitten for her. It was little and delicate just like she was. I still have it more than 30 years later. Little things.
I have an angel that a student gave me and a small carved man that came in a gifted plant; little things, no more than a half inch tall.
It’s the little things that matter.
Late one summer Holly, one of my students, saved the fleshy root of a discarded daylily from her parents’ nursery. She brought it to me because she knew I loved daylilies and we planted it together. She told me she hoped it would be purple because at that time, I had no purple daylilies. We lost Holly soon after, her passing left a hole in my heart, but every year I see that purple daylily blooming and I remember. It’s the little things that matter.
It’s walking with your best friend along a one lane country road in late fall and looking down to find a tiny blue chicory bloom at your feet. It’s the little things.
It’s seeing the last pink and purple streak in the western sky as a soft spring day comes to an end and hearing your grandson say, ‘Look Nana, God is running out of paint tonight, it’ll be dark now.” It’s the little things.
It’s Christmas now, and for the life of me I don’t remember every single gift I ever got for Christmas. But I remember that my Gramma Ell gave my cousin and me matching pajamas every Christmas until we graduated high school. And every Christmas night was spent with my cousin, both of us in our matching pajamas. It’s the little things.
I asked Aunt Bett why Christmas colors were red and green, why they weren’t purple or blue or even orange. She said the winter celebration started when all folks noticed the days began to grow longer, long before the birth of the Christ child. To celebrate the longer days they hung a few of their stored red apples on green trees, gifts for the birds and forest animals. The only green trees in winter were the evergreens. I never questioned Aunt Bett’s stories. It’s the little things that matter.
I have a little bell shaped glass ornament that belonged to my Gramma Ell. I used to place it as far up on her tree as I could reach. One year it fell and bounced from limb to limb before I caught it. It scared me because it was the only glass ornament I was allowed to touch; I became much more careful with treasures. The little glass bell still has a place of honor at my house every Christmas. It’s the little things.
We visited an old woman at Christmas time, a friend of Aunt Bett. She was an unhappy woman, unwell, and to me she seemed very harsh. Aunt Bett said, “You smile at that old woman, Honey. Bet she ain’t seen a smile pretty as yours in a long time, you just go ahead and smile at her.” I managed a smile and that old woman smiled right back at me. She reached into a basket beside her bed and handed me a walnut; I remember putting it in my pocket. Aunt Bett said she hadn’t seen her smile in years. I treasured that walnut. It’s the little things.
I’ve collected only enough little things during my life to fill a good sized pocket; most of them are too tiny to fill up much space, but I have lovely little memories that I store in the pockets of my heart. I’m sure you have those heart pockets, too. I’m also sure you reach down into your heart pockets from time to time and hold your little treasures close, just like I do.
As we gather with our friends and families to celebrate this season, no matter what our faith leads us to celebrate, let’s remember the importance of little things. Life isn’t about big packages. It isn’t about the most expensive gifts. It isn’t about who can do the most for us. It’s the little things that remain with us.
It’s the little blue chicory bloom that struggles to flower for you and your best friend in the frosty fall evening. It's the daylily that bloomed purple because your young friend wanted you to have purple. It's the walnut given to you by an old woman who hadn't smiled in a very long time. It's collecting chips of bright colored glass along a dusty roadside with your friend. It's spending all those Christmas nights with your favorite cousin in matching pajamas. It's having your grown up daughter come into the kitchen in the early morning light singing: "I believe I can fly". It's the note that your grown up son leaves at the end of all his text messages: "Love you, Mom!" It's family, it's friends, it's the love you share with them. In the end, it’s the little things that matter. It's the little things that last longest in the pockets of our hearts.
Wishing you little things as you celebrate this winter season, little love treasures that you can store in your heart pockets and take out when you need them.
It’s the little things that matter.
~Wishing you love ~