On a fateful day in June, Jenee called and told me there was a house for us. Something was different about this phonecall. Something told me to go ahead and follow through, to look at this house. When I drove up and saw the front, I instantly felt connected. I walked through the little house and my connection grew. I brought Jere and Julie back, I walked through it again. We talked about it, I fretted about it. We couldn't afford it, moving is a pain, etc. Yet, something in my deepest core told me to do it, take a giant leap of faith and DO IT. It could be the fact that we have the worlds most adorable and amazing landlords, or that the house is so super cute, or that we just needed to move on...who knows. So, after taking deep cleansing breaths, we agreed to move in. From that first moment we pulled up in the moving van and there was a group of Elders waiting to help us unload, to that first Sunday in church and we were greeted with such love and affection, it has felt like home. As the days and weeks passed, and our friendships developed, there has been no question that THIS is home. We were MEANT to live here. We BELONG here, with THESE neighbors, THIS ward, THESE friends. There is no explaining it, other than you just KNOW, you FEEL it. I've written about this nieghborhood enough, you know I'm all cuckoo for it. But, what happened next defies description.
The Christmas season was on us. As you all know, I am far to practical for this Holiday. Even if I had money, I wouldn't spend it frivolously. But, since we literally DON'T have money, well then it's even more subdued. This KILLS Jere. He is eternally five when it comes to Christmas. He wants presents, he dreams of presents, and he has expensive taste. However, it had become clear to him that no big Christmas was forthcoming. We kept it very simple for the kids, giving Maggie a bigwheel we had bought last year, and some small makeup things I'd purchased, and a little computer that my parents gave her. Max got some hot wheels and all hand me down toys. (for the record, let it be known that I am JUST fine with hand me down anythings. They're all in great shape and SHOULD be enjoyed by someone else) As for Jere and I, I would have much preferred NO presents between us, but since I knew that would literally kill him, I had eeked out a tiny budget that we could buy a couple of things for eachother. So, on the 23rd we shopped at Target and got a couple of things. So, there it was, simple and yet just fine. As I stated earlier, I still feel blessed, material means or not. We are getting by, we have food on the table, and we have amazing friends and family.
First came a letter and gift from our landlords, expressing their love and adoration for our little family, and decreasing our rent for the month of December. Talk about a Christmas miracle. I can't begin to tell you how much that meant, AND helped. Then came late night gifts from a secret 12 days of Christmas friend. Just sweet little trinkets left on our doorstep each night. But what happened at 4:45 on Christmas Eve was MOST unexpected and has forever changed us.
We thought we were waiting for A friend to drop off a little gift. Instead, at 4:45 the strains of "feliz navidad" began playing loud and clear outside our window. As we looked out our window, our entire yard was covered with friends, people we love all wearing sombreros and singing and dancing, holding gifts. I opened the door to watch the spectacle and began bawling as I realized what was happening. Jere was confused, and kept asking, "what is happening" as one by one they entered our little living room and placed gifts under and around our tree. These people, our friends, our neighbors took it upon themselves to give us Christmas. For no other reason than they love us. You can NOT imagine the feelings of inadequacy you feel in a moment like that. The feeling of gratitude, yet undeservingness of it all. Why are WE so blessed. I'm sure, no I KNOW there are others out there MORE in need, and yet, it was exactly what we needed. We were taught a lesson in humility and gratitude that we might never have learned otherwise. The look of happiness and excitement on each of their faces was so great. It reminded me of my childhood, and the greatest Christmases I experienced, those where we gave up some of our own presents, or picked a family and bought them their whole Christmas. We generally did it anonymously, but the feeling was still so great. After the last person left, and walked out the door, Jere said "I'm so embarrassed, I don't want to be a charity case." I replied "you can look at it that way, or you can look at it as, we are loved, and this made THEIR Christmas even better." Needless to say, their generosity and kindness is epic! These friends and neighbors DO NOT mess around. I don't think I stopped crying for most of that night. Every time a present would get opened, a fresh round of tears would start. HOW could we be so blessed? WHO loves us this much? WHY are we so lucky? We don't feel deserving in any way, but we feel grateful! When all was said and done, Jere and I stood, hugging and crying, wondering of our blessings. He asked "how do we EVER say thank you, what do we do?" And I replied.."the ONLY thing we can do is to serve. We MUST serve in any and every capacity possible, to show our Heavenly Father that we are grateful and deserving." His response was "OK, consider it done." And to me, that was the greatest gift and miracle of them all.
So, though no amount of Thank yous could EVER possibly cover our gratitude...we say thank you once again to our friends and neighbors. We say thank you to the 85201, to our "other" family. You will never know the true "gift" you gave us. Far beyond material things, you gave us perspective and understanding of our Lords greater plan. We will spend the rest of our lives striving to live up to and repay this great act of kindness!!
To our amazing "crew"...thank you! Thanks for the silly dancing and singing, the sombreros and love! You are the GREATEST!!
Sometimes....the greatest gifts are not found in a box, but are from the heart. And sometimes, lives are changed for the better! Sometimes, the Lord opens up a path, and ALWAYS, when you follow the prompting, you are blessed. We are eternally grateful for a phonecall, a feeling and a move.
Power to the 85201