My mom, Nancy, is posting a different Christmas memory for 12 days. She gave me her blessing to repost them here. It’s amazing how a life story can be told through the lens of a certain day.
Seventh Christmas Day Memory
(As most of you know, Phil was shot and killed June 9, 1984 while serving with the VA National Guard, and Philip/PJ was born 5 weeks later on July 15th.)
There we were in Fredericksburg having our first Christmas after Phil was killed. I took on the all the tasks – determined that Christmas would happen for the children just like they expected. Wrangling a Christmas tree brought me to tears as I dragged it home and struggled to get the dang thing to stay up. I baked, I shopped, I prepared for the stockings, check /check /check – everything getting done on my list. I knew I could do this Christmas thing and get ‘er done.
However I had no idea how to create the magic.
My brother Tim, my sister in law Melinda and their two children had recently moved to PA and graciously decided to drive down to spend Christmas with us. That meant they had to do all their Christmas at their house before they left. They even invited us up to their home to spend New Year’s Day, helping us have something to look forward to. Having them in my home meant so much to me that year.
On Christmas Eve (or maybe the day before?) we were waiting for Tim and Melinda to arrive any minute – the house was tidy and decorated, the children were in their clean clothes waiting – when there was a knock at the door. To my surprise there was Santa Clause and about 5 adults all carrying wrapped packages. In they came insisting on watching the children open what looked like a mountain of gifts. It was a group of Phil’s co-workers from Mt. Vernon Realty. How they got the names and the ages of the kids I have no idea. Poor Kylie – they thought she was a boy named Kyle so her gifts were not quite right, but still the community had tried to show us the love and magic of the season.
Just thinking about that outpouring is very humbling. We were that needy family that year. We might not have been needy in the dollar sense, but we were sorely in need of some magic.
To experience being on the receiving end of charity was a lesson to be learned in how to be grateful for the grace of others and to allow them to reach out to us.
Each and every Christmas let us try to be aware of those around us that are alone or needy in so many different ways.
Picture is of that Christmas 1984; Cabbage Patch dolls handmade by my mother.