The Shepherds in the field, the Wise Men coming from the East, the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger, the angelic announcement that this was the Son of God…do I believe it all happened as the Bible says it did?

Yes I do.

Merry Christmas one and all!

A little reminder of the reason for the season:

Disclosure: I had to have Huh help me insert this video into my post. I was pretty clueless as to how to do it. Thank heavens for tech savvy teenagers!

Last night we had our first combined young women activity with me at the helm as the new Young Women’s President.  We had a mother/daughter gingerbread activity in which each girl and her mom (or other invited guest) got to build and decorate their very own gingerbread house.

There were traditional houses using red, green, and white.  There were houses with frosting icicles.  There were houses with gingerbread trees placed carefully in front.

And then there was the “Ghetto” gingerbread house.

The cinnamon discs became too heavy for the roof, causing it to slide off.  So, a candy cane and some celery sticks from the refreshment table were used to prop up the roof.

And, of course, the “ghetto” gingerbread house was created and named by my daughter, Hoob.

She is such a goon.

I have received a last-minute request from the Bishop of our ward to do a service for a family in need.  The Bishop would like the Young Women’s organization to provide Christmas for a single mom and her two kids which are an 18-month-old baby and a 16-year-old daughter.  Items requested are clothes for the kids, a dress for the mom, a game for the 16-year-old, and a few toys for the baby.

As I presented the request to the young women of our ward in church yesterday, I was gratified to see that they were all willing to help this little family that doesn’t even live in our area.  I was even given some money by a couple of the girls immediately after presenting the request.

We only have one week to pull a Christmas together for this family in need, all donations need to be ready next Monday.  This Wednesday night we are having a mother/daughter night of making gingerbread houses.  We have asked the girls to bring any donations that they have to that activity so that we can start to organize the gifts and see what else we will need to purchase.

Though I am already short on time, I am grateful for this opportunity to serve people we have never met.  Last year our family provided Christmas for a different single mom and her children.  My kids and step-kids enjoyed providing that service, and now my daughters and step-daughter get the opportunity to serve again, along with their teen friends in the ward.  I love to see teenagers serve others instead of thinking of themselves!

It is going to be quite hectic for the next few days as I coordinate the service for this single mom as well as continue my “regular” daily activities, AND finish the Christmas shopping for my own family.

One week to provide a Christmas for a family.

We.

Will.

Do.

This.

We CAN pull it off!

What we saw on Thanksgiving: 

As seen from our front yard.

Just around the corner.

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On Black Friday I officially became a shoplifter.  Only, I didn’t know I was a shoplifter until later that night when I was unloading our loot from the shopping bags and discovered (gasp!) that one of the flash drives we had grabbed was hidden underneath all of our gloves, hats, and scarves, which we had removed and shoved in the bag once inside the store and running around like lunatics, because it gets rather warm when you are running around a store like a lunatic looking for a GPS unit and some flash drives, dontcha know?  

The anti-theft thingies (can’t think of what they are called right now) did beep as we were leaving the store, and a security guard did come and check my receipt against the items in my shopping bags, but not one of us thought to look under all the scarves, hats, and gloves.  We must have looked honest, or the security guard was simply too tired at 5:00 in the morning to care, because after a rather quick glimpse at the receipt and contents of the shopping bags, he told us we could go. 

The thing is, we do want to be honest.  And so, yes, the flash drive was returned to the store (on Monday–didn’t have time until then) so that I could pay for it.  The nice young man working the customer service desk allowed me to buy the flash drive for the Black Friday price.  My kids had a good time teasing me about being a shoplifter.  Though the whole incident was inconvenient, I was glad to be able to use it as a time to reinforce a lesson on honesty with my kids. 

********** 

Hoob danced at the Festival of Trees with her dance studio on Wednesday evening.  One of our favorite trees there was this one: 

Upside down "Nightmare Before Christmas" tree

Little did I know that our own Christmas tree would have a nightmare of its own last night and throw itself on the floor in an attempt to escape whatever it was dreaming about.  Or, maybe it was trying to do a cartwheel.  Or, it wanted to be upside down like the tree at the festival.  Or…the stupid tree stand broke.  

And, of course, the tree would fall down at midnight, thus waking me from a nice dream of vacationing in Florida, and causing me to sit straight up in bed wondering what I’d heard.  And, of course, Hub didn’t hear the loud crash because he can sleep through anything.  And so, I was the one who crawled out of bed to wander through the dark house in the middle of the night to see if I could discover what had made the loud crash that interrupted my nice dream of vacationing in Florida.  Thankfully, I didn’t hear any scary horror movie music, so I was able to be brave as I wandered through the dark house at midnight. 

And then I saw our poor Christmas tree.  It was down.  It was undignified.  It was pathetic.  And, in its fall, it broke a lot of my kids’ precious ornaments from past Christmases. (Wah, sob, sniff) 

At that time of night I didn’t think to take picture of the mess.  I, instead, enlisted the help of Hub who woke right up when I told him the Christmas tree had fallen.  How on earth did he not hear it???  We propped the tree up against the wall and cleaned up the ornament mess, and now we must hunt for a new Christmas tree stand or a new fake tree.  We haven’t decided which one yet. 

Sigh. 

Stupid, stupid Christmas tree stand!

I’d been praying to be led to someone our family could serve this Christmas season.  For whatever reason, nothing seemed to come up.  I knew of food bank needs, and our kids took canned goods to school to help with the food drive.  I knew of the loneliness of the residents of a local senior care center and had my PLC students make cards for them.  My kids finished the cards so that each resident could receive two.  I agreed to continue the tradition Hub and his kids have of randomly handing out cash to strangers.  But, none of these acts of service seemed like the “one.”  It still felt like there was something else we could do, or needed to do, but what was it?

Then, last Sunday, a plea for help caught my eye.  A single mom needs help providing a Christmas for her family.  Having been a single mom for a time, anything about single moms catches my eye.  She has four kids.  I was a single mom with four kids.  She has three girls and a boy.  I have three girls and a boy.  Her boy is the youngest.  My boy is the youngest.  Of course, all of this was going to catch my attention! 

But, it was there that our similarities ended.  She lives in an apartment.  Her son is a heart patient and has already had one open heart surgery in which he received a donor valve.  He will outgrow that valve and will need open heart surgery again in the future.  Because of all the time she spends with her son at the hospital she is unable to work.  She was able to buy herself a car in August, “Nothing pretty,” she says, “but it worked.”  Then, two days after Thanksgiving, she was hit by a drunk driver and the car was totaled.  She sent out a plea for someone to help her family have a Christmas.

This was the one.

I approached Hub about my desire to help this little family.  He agreed that it was something we could do.  I don’t want to go into much detail about what we have decided to do, but our kids have agreed to certain sacrifices.  I also spent time on the phone with each of my extended family members who have all agreed to give up a certain traditional activity at my Mom’s Christmas party and, instead, put the money towards providing this little family with a Christmas dinner and stocking stuffers.  It took most of the week to coordinate, hence no new postings from me.  But, it has all fallen into place in a week’s time.

Our kids did their shopping for the mystery family last night.  The only “need” that had been requested was socks and underwear for the two youngest kids.  It was fun to see the kids partner up and try to find things that the kids in the family might enjoy and it was gratifying to hear them say to each other that it was fun.  They have also expressed a desire to go with us when we deliver “Christmas” on Tuesday.  My mom’s party is tomorrow night and we will return home with the Christmas dinner and stocking stuffers to add to the growing pile in my bedroom.  

Every once in awhile someone will share an idea on something else we can do to add to the “Christmas.”  The entire experience sort of reminds me of the line from Field of Dreams–“If you build it, they will come.”  I was looking for an opportunity to serve.  I prayed for it.  And the opportunity presented itself.  A short time before Christmas, when I had decided that it was too late to help anyone, the opportunity came.

If you look for opportunities to serve, they will come.