Extravangant Christmas

One of the perfect themes of Christmas is giving. The Son of God came down to give life, peace, and joy to all who accept His gift. All around, this season, we have opportunities to give and share with others. I will never forget how my friend Jess and her family and so many others gave and gave and gave to us… 

The following was originally published in December 2009.


Holidays have been kind of bittersweet for me the past few years. Rhema still does not seem to “get” Christmas or birthdays. And, honestly, there was little motivation on our part to make a big fuss when Rhema seemed not to care about such things. Last year we did not even put up a tree, and instead relied on the grandparents to do Christmas (as we have done for the past few years).

This year has been different. With Brandon deployed to Iraq this Christmas, our annual trek to Michigan was not really an option (how we miss them). This year it has really been my desire to make the holiday special and meaningful to Rhema and Hope. But I had no idea where to start – I’m not naturally good at this stuff.

Enter Jess and her family. Luau came over and put up our tree, and Jess gave me lots of ideas and sent Rhema-safe decorations (pom-pom garland and tinsel).

And then, this weekend, they brought Christmas to us. Luau dressed up as Santa, Katie was an elf, Brooke was a reindeer (and Jess came as Jess.)

Oh, if you could have seen the look on Hope’s face when Santa came through the door, bearing gifts galore!

She was literally frozen for a moment — wonder, surprise, excitement, dreams comes true. It was the kind of moment that a mother treasures forever. (Most of these moments have come for me in seeing others love my girls, and nothing touches my heart more).

During the visit, Hope asked to see Santa’s Nice List. (Up until this point she had been very concerned that she might be on Santa’s naughty list… due to transgressions committed earlier in the week). Santa had come with just about every prop in the book, but he didn’t bring his list. Jess quickly came up with the excuse: “Oh, Santa left his list at the North Pole.”

While Brooke dazzled me with her drawings of Boots, Benny, Tico and Isa and all the cast members of Godspell, Katie worked on her own little project. Some time later Katie produced a piece of paper with lots of names written on it; across the top it said: Nice List. And Hope, of course, was the very first name on the list. And Santa, of course, showed Hope that she was indeed on the Nice List.

Katie cares about the details. The entire time her focus was on making this a special time for Rhema and Hope. She is 8 ¾ years old, and there’s no doubt this girl is already having a profound impact on this world. Katie and Brooke both were so amazing and sweet. I seriously think Jess and Luau should write books and teach seminars on parenting. These two little girls are the best of the best.

When it was time to go, I stood Rhema to her feet and told her to give a high five to Santa. She had not acknowledged Santa or shown any interest in him. But when I stood her up, instead of giving him a high five, she clambered up his legs, climbed over his big belly and right into his arms. It was PRICELESS… and perfect.

And she didn’t want to let go – I had to pry her out of his arms! Rhema doesn’t give her hugs to many people. But I’m convinced that she recognizes love. And it made me wonder (again) if she actually understands more than I give her credit for… like maybe she does get the idea of Santa. Truly it seemed that in that room with Jess and her family, just about anything was possible.

Jess came with the gifts and well-wishes of many dear bloggy mamas. For the past few months I have been receiving ‘encouragement packages’ from friends – some of whom I have never met. Seriously, the timing is always impeccable – a package arrives just when I’m having a particularly rough day. (Thank you, Michelle, for the way you inspire kindness).

Try as I might I can’t be eloquent about this. The love and support we have received has been like nothing I have ever seen or could have imagined. It’s like God really did open the windows of heaven and is heaping blessings upon my family. The only thing I can liken it to is the gift of grace through Christ – so lavishly given, so very undeserved.

I can only say thank you, and hope you know that that does not come close to conveying our gratitude. Thank you for the thoughtful gifts. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for the cards and letters to Brandon. Thank you for being here, and thank you for sharing in our lives.

Still thankful.

12 thoughts on “Extravangant Christmas

  1. Man that Jess and her family are just awesome. This is turning into a beautiful tradition. Love that Rhema connected with Santa. I believe Wyatt recognizes love as well and when he does, the moments are just precious.

  2. Merry Christmas to your beautiful family!! I am SURE your gorgeous daughter is understanding more than she is letting you know and I am sure that she feels all of your love and protection every single minute of her life! xoxoxoxo

  3. I have to believe that God has a special relationship with our “special” children.

    True friends are a rare blessing. I am so glad that you are blessed as you bless others. gail

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