Christmas Miracles

There are so many things that I want to say about our Christmas. I’m not sure where to begin.

Suffice it to say that my family was extremely blessed to have a number of angels in our lives this year.  Santa wasn’t sure how he was going to provide the girls with much of anything besides dollar store gifts. He had actually decided to just give one or two gifts to The Princess and leave Sparky out of the gift giving, but he was worried that The Princess would notice that Sparky didn’t receive anything.  He was also worried that The Princess would notice that she didn’t receive any gifts from Dad and Mom if Santa delivered all the gifts. This was beginning to cause Santa a lot of stress.

December ended up being a month of small miracles. Various family members contacted me to say that their Christmas wish this year was for my girls to have a nice Christmas. They asked me what the girls wanted, as well as what they needed. Soon, the nice people from UPS and USPS began to deliver packages to my door. I was told to choose which items came from Santa, which items came from Sasquatch and me, and which items came from family members. Not only did my girls receive some fun toys, games, and art supplies, they also received various necessities such as jammies, tights (The Princess loves wearing skirts to school, and all of her tights were a couple of sizes too small), socks, and shoes. Those of you who helped us – I can’t tell you how nice it was for The Princess to have nice warm jammies (her room is freezing for some reason), tights, and new shoes.

There are a few close friends here with whom I’ve shared some of my worries (I’m so sorry if I’ve dwelt on it too much in conversations – I’m working on that for the new year), but I didn’t think I had specifically mentioned Christmas to anyone. I really tried not to – especially since I knew our families were going to be helping us. Well, a few days before Christmas, a member of the bishopric came to our house to deliver a package of wrapped gifts for our family (for the girls as well as for Sasquatch and me). I was out running an errand at the time, and when I came home, Sasquatch sent The Princess to her room (after informing her that she was not in trouble), because he had an idea of what my reaction would be when he showed me what had arrived. He was right – he showed me, and I instantly burst into tears.

It was kind of a strange night. I was soooooooo grateful that someone had thought of us at Christmas. But at the same time, I felt an awful lot of guilt. For one thing, we had already received some help from family. And for that reason, I felt certain that there was someone else in the ward who could have surely used the items more than we could.

To be honest, it also felt kind of strange to be the person who needed to be on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness.  I guess it’s one thing when that kind of help comes from family – you still have a sense of anonymity when it’s your family helping you out. But when the help is coming from an anonymous outside source, all of a sudden, you realize that maybe your struggles aren’t quite as private as you thought. I guess there was a sense of embarrassment along with the guilt. I was also racking my brain trying to figure out if I had told anyone about my Christmas worries specifically – I felt so bad that I had put that burden on somebody else. But I couldn’t think of anyone I’d told.

After a while, I called my mom to ask her if she’d called my bishop. I knew she was worried about us, and knowing my mom, she wouldn’t be scared to call my bishop (I had already told her that with the family helping us out, we were “covered” for Christmas, lol). She told me that while she’d considered calling him, she hadn’t actually called him. I began to tell her about the guilt I was feeling (that whole idea that there was someone out there who maybe could have used the help more than us), and she reminded me that my willingness to accept the gifts that we’d received was allowing someone else to have the blessings that come with serving somebody else. Sasquatch told me that maybe part of the reason we had been chosen to receive the gifts was because Heavenly Father wanted to remind me that we are not alone or abandoned living out here without any family members nearby – as much as I sometimes allow myself to feel that way.

Another reason that I felt guilt (for the known and unknown givers) is because I have been tormented by a missed opportunity for service a few years ago. While Sasquatch was in school, we went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. During the concert, I received a very strong impression that there were a couple of families who could use our help during that Christmas season. Since we were living on student loans and my full-time income from the U of U at the time, we had a bit of “expendable” income. Not a lot, but enough to provide Christmas for The Princess and help out these other families that I had in mind without putting any debt onto our credit card.

Well, I had this concern about how to keep the whole thing anonymous. I didn’t want to feel bad if the money (I felt the need to donate money rather than gifts) was used for something other than Christmas, and I didn’t want to feel bitter if our kindness was never acknowledged. (it’s so embarrassing  for me to admit that – I now realize that I was not willing to give out of the kindness of my heart to those particular families at that particular time, and it haunts me to this day). I wanted to keep it anonymous so my feelings wouldn’t be hurt. But I could never figure out how to do that and make sure that the money was safely received by the families rather than by somebody else (I didn’t really feel that I could put an envelope on the doorstep and leave it there for them to find). Like I said, I was working a (very stressful) full-time job in a pediatric clinic at the time, and before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone, and I’d never offered the service I felt so strongly prompted to offer.

This missed service opportunity has made it so much harder for me to accept the amazing service that we have received this year. It makes me feel that much less worthy to receive it. At the same time, it’s made me so grateful that there are people in the world who care enough about my family to want to make sure that we had a wonderful Christmas experience this year. I have promised myself that if Heavenly Father decides to bless my family with greater financial means in the future, I will be helping my girls to provide Christmas for someone else in need every year that we can possibly make it happen. It’s also given me a very strong desire to help people throughout the year, rather than just at Christmas time. I don’t have the means to do much right now (it’s hard to even get out there and help people when you only have one car), but as soon as I do, I’ll be helping as much as I possibly can.

To all those (known and unknown) who helped ensure a truly beautiful Christmas for my family this year, I just want to publicly thank you. The clothing provided by the anonymous givers was so absolutely needed by all of us, and the girls enjoyed their toys as well. And to my family members, well, I know I’ve told you thank you a few times already, but I just need to say it again. The clothing and the gifts were amazing. I can’t wait to start sharing videos of the girls (although Sparky seems to have an innate sense of when the camera is turned on and stops doing whatever cute thing she was doing at the time), and I’m beyond excited to find some recipes to try with my new dutch oven (I’m thinking I might try some sort of braised short ribs if they go on sale soon).

I feel bad that I didn’t take any pictures of the girls opening gifts on Christmas. We were a bit preoccupied with separating out the gifts from Santa and from family (family gifts were being videotaped and Santa gifts were being set aside for a web cam with Grandpa & Grandma Clover and Shayne & Erin), and my current illness decided to catch up with me in full force that day. The combination of excessive coughing and sitting on the hard floor wrapping gifts the night before had caused one of my ribs to slip, and I was in too much pain to do much of anything, let alone take pictures.

Here are the few pictures I managed to capture from that day. Sparky still refuses to look at the camera, so I don’t really even try with her right now because I just get frustrated. It was really rainy that day, which made our house was too dark to get any “action” shots of her and I had no intentions of messing with the flash when I was feeling generally awful. The Princess was willing to give me a Christmas morning bedhead shot at the kitchen table.

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Here’s a shot of the kitchen window on Christmas morning. I love the combination of the raindrops and the pretty colors in the background.

Window01After the girls went to bed that night, I spent some time blog surfing and came across The Pioneer Woman’s blog post about Christmas bokeh. I felt inspired to create some bokeh shots of my own.

bokeh01 

Bokeh02

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Finally, if I didn’t have a chance to mail you one of our Christmas cards (I really had to limit the number I mailed this year), I’d like to share our family’s Christmas card with you. Hopefully our situation will be a bit better this year and I’ll be able to make yummy press-printed cards to send to everyone. :) I’ve had a few people tell me that we look sad in this image, but I think we just look serious – and at least Sparky’s in the frame and not screaming – that was the best we could hope for this year. I love the backlighting on our hair. The names at the bottom have been changed for the blog. ;)

FamilyCardblog

Shayner and Ern  – (January 6, 2010 at 9:32 AM)  

Shallyse, we love you. We wish we could have done more this year. But the way things are looking so far with the new year, and they keep progressing, you definitely wont have to go through all of this with this years (2010) christmas.

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