Christmas time is here again & for some that can mean life gets a whole lot harder. We know, because the past few years has been trying for my husband & I. We had started to dread that sure-to-come question "So, are you guys all ready for Christmas?" While I know it always came from well-meaning people who were full of anticipation for the season it fell upon our ears as another reminder that we weren't going to be able to provide gifts for our kids. Having been in lean financial times( for what seems like forever) Christmas gifts just weren't a reality for us. We were more concerned about keeping the lights on & the heat going. When our kids were really young we didn't give it much thought. We knew kids that age were more into empty boxes than the actual item inside so we just considered ourselves minimalists (read as that made us feel better) & chose to focus more on what the season meant & less on the stuff.
Fast forward to when they were a bit older & thanks to some truly AMAZING people. Two different years two different groups of AMAZING there were gifts under the tree for our kiddos. We were surrounded by such kind & generous & loving communities that loved on us & our kiddos & turned what could have been a really hard time into a time of joy & thanksgiving! It was never about the stuff or the lack of stuff. It was about the joy & anticipation & excitement that any parent wants to be able to provide for their kiddo.
This year marks the first year we are able to buy presents for our kiddos. And we are excited! Unless you've never been able to you may not grasp the excitement but let me tell you it's on like donkey-kong! As we started thinking about Christmas & our kids & bringing them a bit of joy we naturally thought & talked about the prior years & how we were so loved on. It got us to thinking how much more difficult this time of year must be for people who don't have a supportive community around them. Maybe they don't have anyone to admit through a tear-stained face how hard it is. Maybe they don't have anyone to let in & share how alls they really want is a matching pair of Christmas pjs for their kiddos. Maybe they can't get over the pride of how hard it is to tell someone it's hard. You live & breath it the last thing you want to do is to hear yourself talk about it. We knew we wanted to be able to do a bit for one other family, but realistically we also knew we couldn't do much more than that but maybe, just maybe, their were families like ours who wanted to do something for other families. So with these families in mind....The ones who are working, but it's never enough. The ones who are working & in school & raising their babies on their own. The ones who lost jobs & are new in town & just don't have anyone. With them in mind we launched our 1st Gift for Kids Program. And as per usual I dived right in. Spread the word with out really thinking it through & without having lined up people to help provide gifts to be sponsors or donors or what have you. So then I panicked & thought this will never work & asked my friend (who knows how I dive in without thinking all.the.time.) to please pray because I had names of kids coming in who needed to be matched with donors & whatifnoonecameforward I didn't want to ruin anyone's Christmas & I should have just kept my mouth shut & who do I think I am to help anybody anyways?! Sheesh. She prayed. I prayed. Names came in & people wrote it saying they wanted to help & how could they help & could they please help. Seriously. It was beyond me. The entire thing came together so effortlessly I didn't need to do a thing except show up to turn the computer on. I remember telling my husband shortly before launching the Gift for Kids program that I would be stoked if at least one family was matched with another. You know what? Enough families came forward wanting to bless & were matched with 21 kids who's families are struggling & who admitted it's hard. A.ma.zing. Some of the names came from the moms themselves & they brokenly shared a bit of their stories with me. Some of the names came from other people who nominated them (for lack of a better word) because they knew it was hard.
Now the gifts are starting to trickle in. I keep thinking how excited I am to have my kids apart of delivering all these gifts to the families who are trying so hard. So that it would be a good reminder to them to be thankful & to think of others. But...Let's be real the reminder is for me. It's so easy to get amnesia about letting people in, about finding joy through being thankful & about thinking of how to love on others. The thing I didn't know when we were on the receiving end was that not only did my family feel the love but those who acted out on the tug of their hearts they got to feel it too. Thankful for these brave families who by letting people in a bit are in turn making all of our Christmas seasons that much brighter.