Current mood:nostalgic Several years ago I had an honest to goodness Christmas Elf. A secret santa of sorts. The odd thing was, I had not arranged with anyone to be secret Santas. Isn't that how it always works? Several people, or an office full of people, want to play secret Santa and trade names, and do fun things for each other, keeping their identity secret. But they all know who is playing and usually there are some parameters set as to how much will be spent, etc. That particular year I arrived home from work one afternoon to see a package by my front door. It was easy to see from the street before we even got out of the car, so right away the musing started. A package? Did I order something I've forgotten about? Who's sending me something? Oh, goody - I can't wait to get up to the door and find out! The package was not mailed to my house, but apparently hand delivered as there was no type of postage on it and no return address. All I could find was my name. I took it inside and drove my daughters crazy by making them wait while I put my things away and caught my breath. Finally... time to find out what's inside!! Upon opening the box I found a beautiful Christmas village light up building. Santa's house! It was made by Department 56 which is a high quality brand so I knew this was no cheap trinket! Who could have left it? A nice gift, but.... well, can I just say, "Wow!" A few days later I arrived home to find another package at my door. Another building of Santa's village... another wow! All in all before Christmas I came home to find, I think, four buildings and a sleigh & eight reindeer. I was completely puzzled. I thought of my mother-in-law but frankly, this was a bit too extravagant gift. I considered Mark's aunt. She was moving out of her home and downsizing into a retirement community and perhaps she'd asked my mother-in-law to help her find a new home for this treasure. I suspected my mother-in-law was not the giver but was instrumental in the giving. You see, a note attached to the box was written on a dot matrix printer and the paper had preforated edges indicating continuous feed paper. She was the only one I knew that still used that type of printer. And yes, I really do look for these little details. However, by Christmas day the piece by piece arrival of my Christmas village was still a mystery. Now Christmas in Seattle for my husband's family is always a big event. Lots of kids, grandkids and non-blood relatives that have been adopted into the family over the years. With all the hulabaloo of the day I really wasn't thinking about the mystery any longer and just enjoying family. We had our big meal and cleaned up and all gathered around the tree to share our gifts. This is when the mystery was solved. My husband's brother Mark gave me a small gift and when I opened it I found another piece of the village - Mr. & Mrs. Claus I think it was. There was also a card with the box and he had written such a beautiful sentiment with it I cried. I know I still have the card, but this Christmas many things are "lost" in our house somewhere.... I won't go into the why of village being given up, but apparently I had made a comment at Thanksgiving that I'd love to have a Christmas village. Mark heard me and with my mother-in-law's help, gave me his in this unusual and thoughtful way. It was and is a remarkable gift that I treasure each year. I continue to add to it each year when I find buildings on sale, but I will never forget the wonder of receiving my first pieces.