A Christmas Surprise

Well, this blog entry is going to be a weird one, because I can’t really tell you that much. I can, however, tell you this:

I had planned to go Christmas shopping.

I had planned to order our cards and pick up more wrapping paper.

And I had planned to end the night with treating myself with a trip to the book store.

But, instead, I drove around. For a long time, actually. Eventually, I ended up at the book store but had no enthusiasm for going in and so I sat in the parking lot until deciding to just go home to be with my family.


Well, I’d had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting some really wonderful girls earlier that evening. I had visited a teen shelter to speak with the kids on writing, my journey re: becoming an author, and some of the themes in my book, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS. Then, I let each of them choose a couple of journals from a box I’d brought and spoke with them on journaling and how writing can help when you are struggling with emotional things. I talked about writing even if you don’t know what to say at first. How writing, “I’m not sure what to say” is totally valid as long as the pen keeps moving.

I also told them that, if a person is dealing with intense and difficult material, writing in first person is sometimes overwhelming. If they want to explore feelings that they have, writing in third person—writing a fictional character and “giving away” some of their own worries—can be helpful. Sometimes the distance gives the writer some clarity. Sometimes the best way to figure things about your own heart is to take that step away.

Lastly, journals don’t have to be about deep or sad things. They can write lists, addresses of friends, jokes or pictures. Journaling shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should be whatever each writer would like it to be. Sometimes that may mean a break from sad thoughts rather than the opportunity to delve into them.

Prior to this meeting with the girls, I had plans of Christmas errands but upon leaving, I couldn’t bring myself to do them. It wasn’t that the experience was bad in any sense whatsoever. It wasn’t that the girls weren’t wonderful to talk with. Actually, it was because the girls were so wonderful. The best.

Two girls, in particular. Their brains were firing. I could see it. One proclaimed that she wants to write a book someday and I told her I thought that she should, but I wonder if I conveyed how strongly I really would like her to. That girl, despite her bumpy beginnings, could really go places. She is uncommonly alert and bright. Keenly observant. And resilient. I could tell.

So, I left thinking about how those girls deserve the best that life has to offer.

I left so, so grateful for the staff members in that home. Obviously caring, thoughtful people and blessings to these girls.

I left wishing that all kids could have loving families. That we could all live in a world with no need for shelters or foster homes;

I left wondering what the world would be like if, as a global people, we could achieve that.

And, I left realizing that getting my Christmas errands done was not as important as I thought.

I’ve added these girls to my Christmas prayers; I hope you will as well.


Filed under Happiness, Satisfaction, School Author Visits, Thankfulness, Writing and Life

26 responses to “A Christmas Surprise

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Lynda. I have added them as well.



  2. Oh, Lynda. Thank you for sharing. You should have called this “A Christmas Gift” –for those girls and for all your blog readers, too.


  3. Cynthia Levinson

    Lynda, a newspaper headline comes to mind when I read and re-read your post: “Writing Saves Lives.” In this case, though, the headline should be “Writer Saves Lives.” I bet those girls feel as if the journals you gave them, along with you sage counsel and deep empathy, will be their life-line.

    Merry Christmas to you and them.


    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      I do hope to make a difference like that. I really do. Thanks for saying it, Cynthia. I know that you and WE’VE GOT A JOB is oging to make a difference too. A big one!

      You know–I’ve had this idea for a while about how you and I could do a school visit together. A big theme in my book is “Be someone’s hero.” BIg one in yours, too, no? 😉


  4. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    What a lovely gift–of your time, your encouragement, and your faith in those girls as writers.


  5. Lynda:
    I’m so gratified that someone with your level of understanding and compassion had the opportunity to connect with these children. You have the gift of being “Genuine”–and if anyone can spot that quality, it’s these children. Instead of pity, you gave them encouragement and confidence. In essence, you received a gift because you were able and willing to share your gifts not only as a teacher, but more importantly, as a person.

    Thank you for sharing and know that your whole family is really proud of you.


    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      My cousin, Bobby! WOW! I was shocked to see your comment. And moved. And weepy when I read it last night but didn’t have the words to respond.

      Thanks so much for this. My Mum’s siblings and their children (and there are SO many of us!) have always been such a blessing. SInce I’ve had a memory, really. Your comment means the world to me. Thanks so, so much. Love, Lynda


  6. jeannie

    Thank you for sharing this, Lynda. Your gifts — the visit, your vote of confidence, the journals – may very well be the spark that makes the difference. What better Chrismtas gift can there be?


  7. So glad to read this blog. These are the girls I write for and reading about your experience reminded me of why I spend hours and hours doing so. They are worth it. Thank you Lynda. I’m certain you planted “good seed” when you were with them. Have a joyous holiday.


  8. Your post brought tears to my eyes, Lynda. I’m sure these girls will never forget you and what you taught them. They’ll always remember that you gave them a journal and brightened their Christmas. After I finished reading your post, I re-read the beginning with a new understanding of why you drove around aimlessly and then just wanted to go home.


    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Yeah– I know that I was a bit mysterious with my intro there. It just sort of came out that way and I decided to leave it alone. I hoped it would keep people reading. Glad YOU did! 😉


  9. Barbara

    That’s the best Christmas message I’ve heard this season. Knowing you is a blessing!


  10. Lynda: yes. YES! So cool that you visited those girls, and that their eyes sparkled as you connected with them. I am a big believer that moments like that have the innate power to change the direction of a person’s life. These girls now have tangible reminders that an author cares about them and believes in them. I love Robert Frost’s definition of poetry: “Words that become deeds.” In your life as an author, Lynda, you just transmogrified into poetry right there friend. I think that is what IT is ALL about–both the writing and the being a writer. Thank you so very much for sharing.


  11. Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    Oh, Luke…This is so beautiful. Thank you so much. This really IS what it’s all about–but I know that you know that from YOUR writing! Thank you, again, for commenting, Luke.


  12. Pingback: Unexpected Gifts | EMU's Debuts

  13. Pingback: Unexpected Christmas Gifts « Be Someone's Hero.

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