What a week.....lots of prep and finalizing for the Secret Shop at church today. Also what a lot of memories of past Secret Shops.
You might be asking what is a Secret Shop???? It's a special Christmas shopping experience for children. One where they can shop with the help of their own personal "shopping Elf" for their family and friends. They do so in secret making their own choices so there are some Christmas surprises they give to those they love. Of course I'm sure there are some loved ones that are a bit confused by the present they have been given when it was chosen by a 3 year old who really did not want "elfish " advise concerning their choice of a stuffed teddy bear for grandpa.
Covenant UMC's Secret Shop was begun over 25 years ago. It is one of the few programs that has continued without interruption t the church from its inception. The kids love it and the money raised goes to help programs related to children both locally and around the world. Most items available to be purchased have been handmade but crafting elves who work throughout the year. There's always a panic come the first of November that there will not be enough to satisfy demand, but there always is.
This year we had just under 100 children shop. These are children between 3 and 11 and they are all shopping and having their packages wrapped during a 3 hour time period. Yes it is a bit crazy at times! While the children shop mom and dad or who ever brought them get to hang out in a "parent's waiting room" and munch on goodies washed down with coffee, tea, orange juice or cider. This year we had the extra excitement of the new Covenant Cooks II cookbook with literally hot off the presses having arrived the previous day! Yummy recipes from some great cooks! Methodists are renowned for their potluck dinners and love of eating!!!!!!!
Yes it was a very busy and very tiring day, but is was also filled with wonderful memories of the preceding 28 or so Secret Shops including those my children took part in. I shared one memory with Stephanie tonight. Santa used to visit the Secret Shop and one year after sitting on Santa's lap for a picture Stephanie pulled me aside and very firmly announced that "that was not really Santa, but Mr. Koch" I don't remember exactly how old she was, but I don;t think it was more that 4 or 5. As she said tonight she was already incredibly smart and observant at a very early age.....yep that's my GIRL!
I'm not sure where all the years have gone to, but they have flown by. Life is not what I expected it to be at this point, but I am so happy that I still have my memories of wonderful Christmases past. I hope in time to begin once again making wonderful memories that I will fondly look back on with a smile on my face.