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November 2017
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A Christmas Tale of Love

I want to tell a little story this year, about how Christmas this year, has been present in our household for pretty much the whole month of December.  I want to tell a story of Christmas love and blessings, and how a Christmas that, from the outside looked like it was going to be filled with lack, but instead, has been filled with abundance.  Andy has been off of work since the end of September, and as Christmas crept closer and closer, as each week and then month ticked by, it appeared that we were going to get our chance to put our thoughts into actions.  And by that, I mean that we were well on course to have to prove to our children that Christmas could be Christmas without presents under the tree, and cookies and treats around every corner.   We were up for the challenge,  but you know that many a moment was spent with murmurs of prayers, for something to change…

It began with Thanksgiving dinner, actually.  I had done my Thanksgiving dinner shopping a few days early this year.  I usually do that shopping the Tuesday just before the big day to ensure that everything is fresh, fresh, fresh.  As things turned out though, I had opportunity to do my shopping the Saturday before, so I did, and just was grateful that I didn’t have to be out with everyone else that Tuesday.  So there I am, a complete Thanksgiving dinner already in my possession, when we were blessed with a second dinner, complete with a frozen turkey.   Many of the things we received could be set aside for Christmas, and just like that, we had a potential Christmas dinner before Thanksgiving even began.

December came along.  The first week of the month was Abigail’s Nutcracker week, so we all were completely in the Christmas spirit.  Abigail loves to dance in the Nutcracker, Andy designed lights this year, and Zander and I are eager audience members.   As the week progressed, in the back of my mind my concern was for the weekend performances.  I’d purchased tickets for one of the performances, but was waiting until the last minute to pick up tickets for the remaining three.  Really, we couldn’t afford the tickets, but I figured out a way to shift things around so that Zander and I could be at all the performances.  Turns out my figuring was for nothing.  As a thank you for the work Andy did on the lights, we were given tickets to all the shows.  That simple act of generosity really spoke volumes to us, and we were able to completely enjoy the weekend without worrying about a thing.  But then it got better.

The following week, Andy was to travel to a city about 90 minutes away to help with a second run of the Nutcracker at a different studio.  He had been concerned about the gas involved, and the second he started thinking on this, a few gas cards were pressed into his hand.   He was also then informed that he didn’t need to travel back and forth everyday, and was given a piece of paper with a hotel confirmation on it.  A double queen room had been reserved for him for the weekend- oh, and he was bringing the family, right?  There is a pool there.  Oh my, anyone who knows my kids knows how much they love swimming!  So we had an early Christmas!  We traveled down, Andy went to go work on the show while the kids and I sat in the hotel room and felt spoiled.  The kids swam to their hearts content, I got a whole lot of reading and relaxing in, and then we were treated to watching performances of this Nutcracker as well.  The weekend was decadent and so relaxing, and when we arrived home, we really felt like we’d celebrated Christmas already.

Yet, the space under our Christmas tree was still empty.   Andy had some work coming up that would bring in a little income right before Christmas, and we were happy about that, because that meant we could do a few things, but we knew it would be sparse this year.   But then the irony of ironies happened.  We were given a second Christmas tree.  We’d talked for years of putting up two Christmas trees, just for fun, and just like that, one showed up in our dining room.  Our first instinct was to just put it away for next year, because we had no ornaments for it, and no money for new ornaments.   But then Andy started fiddling with the lights, and fluffing the branches, and it was such a pretty tree!  Just like that, a second tree was born.  Abigail set to work the hardest and after two days of work with paper, glue, scissors, staples, coffee filters and ribbons, we had a second Christmas tree.  Decorated so much more beautifully than I could have imagined.  It was decorated with love, we all worked together to make this tree something special and spectacular, and by the time we were done with it, we honestly didn’t care that there wouldn’t be anything to put under it.  We were so overwhelmed with togetherness and just enjoying each other and what Christmas really is about.

And then the whirlwind started happening.

Some ladies on a bulletin board I spend time at got wind of our financial lack this Christmas, and decided they needed to do something about it.  I started waking up in the morning to find e-mails that I’d received money- a small gift to help with extra groceries.  And this happened several times!  Then, Abigail and I had a totally random discussion about gingerbread houses.  She mentioned that she thought it would be fun to make one sometime, and I agreed with her.  I thought to myself that maybe next year, I would see about  making a gingerbread house. Truly, not even three days later, we were presented with a Wilton gingerbread house to put together and decorate.  For the record, they are an excellent quality kit, and the kids had a BLAST decorating it with the candies.

Then the packages started showing up.  One package contained gifts, already wrapped and labeled for the whole family. The package came from across the country- but without a return name.  I am certain I had tears in my eyes as these packages went under our tree- it was so wonderful to be able to put gifts under the tree.   The next day, another package showed up.  This one had something in it for Zander.  It wasn’t just a random cheap something either.  It was THE very thing that I had been wanting to get him for Christmas this year, but knew it wasn’t going to happen.  There was also a nice collection of stocking stuffers for him- put together by a little boy in Maryland who wanted him to have a nice Christmas.

So I had my suspicions up then, that something would be showing up for Abigail soon.  You know it did, and my heart is still overwhelmed when I think of what showed up for her.  Her Christmas gift came from a little girl in Illinois who wanted her to have a very special Christmas, and that it will be indeed.   I’m not sharing specifics yet, because you never know when little eyes will be nearby, but lets just say that it is a very special friend from a very special company- and it’s not even in the realm of possibility for her that this could be under the tree for her.  And yet it will be tomorrow morning.

We also had another package show up.  This one was also unexpected- and if you’ve seen my Sacred Sprouts Schoolhouse blog at all, you’ll see that we spent some time playing with dry ice last week.   That dry ice came in a Styrofoam cooler packed with beef, salmon, and other delicious things from Omaha Steaks.   If there is one thing that Andy misses when he’s laid off it’s beef, because it’s just not for dinner much when he’s not working.   If there’s one thing that I’ve been missing it’s been fish- specifically, salmon.   With the extra money we were gifted, I was able to splurge on baking items, and the other day, as the kids frosted and sprinkled the sugar cookies, I was informed by a rather cheerful daughter that decorating Christmas cookies is her favorite thing about Christmas.

In the last week, Andy has also been given a few more gas cards, cash to use as he pleases, and perhaps, the greatest gift yet came this week, when he learned that come the second week in January, he’s going back to work.   We expected that he would be laid off until the end of March, beginning of April, so this news is beyond wonderful and, really is the best gift we could have gotten this year.

So here we are, it’s Christmas Eve.  Andy has not worked since September.  Yet we have two Christmas trees, presents to put under them, a gingerbread house, cookies and treats, multiple options for a Christmas feast in the freezer, an end to unemployment on the horizon, and we were also able to pick up gifts for everyone we wanted to have a gift from us this year.   Andy just came in with the mail, and we’ve also received an unexpected bonus from his boss. Over the last few weeks we’ve also made an effort to spend more family time together- watching Christmas movies, playing games, and just being silly together as we take a break from the learning room.  The result there has been a house full of joy.  We’re all just so happy and full of the Christmas spirit that we’re giddy.

I don’t tell you this story to brag about how wonderful we are, because if that was the case, we certainly wouldn’t be where we are.  And normally, I keep the “preachy” type stuff to my devotional blog, Heart & Soul, but my dear, precious blog friends, I just had to share this stuff all with you.  Even though I haven’t been sharing as much the last few months, I still think of you often.   Our Christmas story, this tale of abundance and provisions is only made possible by love.  God is so good, and loves us so much, that he wanted our children to have the best Christmas ever.  There are those who argue that Christmas is not about giving gifts, but I’ve come to realize the exact opposite is true.   It IS about gifts.  Because every time we lovingly hand a gift to someone else, we are emulating behavior that is well worth emulating.  God gave us all the greatest gift when he sent His son to earth for us.  Every time we give a gift, we are imitating the act of giving the greatest gift of all.  And when we receive a gift, we are reminded of the joy that that gift brought to all mankind.

So be blessed this Christmas.  From my family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas and pray that you will know boundless joy this holiday season.

With all my love,

Erika

4 comments to A Christmas Tale of Love

  • Tammy

    Erika, I’ve been reading your blog for a LONG time and always enjoy it. Not only the recipes but the “realness” of what you share.
    I sat here reading your entry with tears in my eyes. I’m so very happy for you and your family. What an example in endurance, faith and kindness you seem to be and thus the reason you’ve been blessed.
    I know you and your family will have a Merry Christmas, rightfully so.
    Enjoy time with your family celebrating the real meaning of Christmas!
    Tammy

  • Carey

    The spirit of Christmas definately lives in your home & hearts. Thank you for the reminder of what the holiday is about – family, love, and home.

    Merry christmas & Happy New Year!

  • How neat to see how God provides not only for our daily needs but also for some of the little extras! I’m so glad that you have experienced ABUNDANCE this Christmas as we celebrate the abundant grace that God gave us through Jesus!

  • Stephanie

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. What a blessed Christmas!

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