If you're like me, you never stopped believing in Santa. I was 12 and in the sixth grade before I realized that Santa wasn't the legendary figure I'd known since birth. Rather, he was a symbol of Christmas, a feeling and part of the Spirit of it all. Being as old as I was I had my share of friends that made fun of me for believing. They all "knew" years before I did. I never thought I'd truly "know" until I was grown and had a family of my own. In fact, I remember telling a friend of mine that when I had kids, I would wait up for Santa to come. If he didn't, I would have a stash of presents... just in case. That is truly how I thought I would find out.
There's just so much dissapointment, tragedy, and loneliness in the world and I didn't want to let go of such a fantasy as Santa Claus. What a representation of how Christ truly is. Think about it, a man that goes around spreading Christmas cheer, loves children so much that he would spend the entire year getting ready for one sleepless, exhausting night of traveling around the entire world to deliver presents to every boy and girl. A man that truly represents selflessness. He expects nothing in return. Only asking each boy and girl to be good. Is that not what Christ does for us, only on a much more spiritual level? He gave us the most selfless gift and expects nothing from us, only asking us to try our hardest to be like him. And yet, he knows that it is impossible. He only asks that we try.
In so many ways, Santa Claus is that example of selflessness and giving. I refuse to let go of that. Often times I hear of parents wanting to eliminate Santa Claus altogether from their children's view of Christmas. They are so afraid that believing in Santa Claus makes the holiday too commercialized and worldly. I suppose, if you let it be, that can be the case. However, I am definitely PRO-Santa! I think believing in a man such as Santa can be a great tool in learning about Jesus Christ and all that he represents. We try to incorporate that into our holiday as well. Have you ever read the book I Believe In Santa Claus? If not, I highly recommend it. Santa lives!! He may not "live" in the sense that we think of as children. Obviously, he doesn't slither down the chimney, ride in a big red sleigh, or have a reindeer with a nose that glows to help him find his way in the fog and dark. He lives! He lives through us, the parents, the neighbors, and anyone else that has selflessly given a gift. He even lives in our children. I see the light of Christ in my children's eyes far more often than I see it in anyone else. I also see the spirit of Santa Claus (another great representation of Jesus) in their willingness to serve and give during the holidays.
Now to the hard part of this post. It's never fun or easy to admit when things are rough. We all have trials in this life and we all battle demons. Some have lighter trials than others and sometimes life just isn't fair.
As I write this, I write so that others may know that the Spirit of Christmas lives, not so you will feel sorry for us. I really just want everyone to know that when all hope is lost, it really isn't.
Anthony and I have been married now for 10 years. In those years, we've had financial difficulties. We started out as poor newlywed college students. We both had jobs but neither of us made much money. That first Christmas was a meager one. I don't remember the gifts but I remember that we both wrote a letter to each other and it was the most treasured of all the gifts.
By the time our second Christmas rolled around, we had little K and I had quit my job to be a full time mom. Anthony worked hard as a framer (construction). He had moved up in pay and we had sufficient for our needs. At that time, we lived in a basement apartment. Christmas was fun that year. I surprised him with a set of golf clubs and he surprised me with a stroller and carseat combo for the baby. It was fun!
The third and fourth Christmases were unlike any I had known up to that point. We had moved to South Carolina with my parents who had moved out there for my dad's job. Anthony was working at Sear's about 30 hours per week, going to school full time, and he was also teaching early morning Seminary at the church (which was about 40 minutes away). We didn't see much of him at that time but between the student loans and his job, we were able to provide the kids with what they needed and get ourselves a little something too. Baby A had made her entrance into the family by that fourth year.
Year number 5 was a rough one. We had just moved back to Utah from South Carolina and although Anthony was able to get his old construction job back, we had a hard time keeping up with all the bills. Luckily, that year the only thing K had asked for was "books and a pack-hack" (backpack). My mom graciously provided a backpack along with some other fun things and by chance, a cousin of mine called me to let me know that she had ordered a set of books from QVC and wanted to know if we wanted to give them to K. PERFECT! Baby A was still so little that she didn't even know what was going on. My mom and dad provided her with a few little things too. That Christmas was not elaborate at all but it was fun. We were living in an apartment.
This was also the year that someone had snuck into our apartment and left a whole mess load of badly needed groceries. I can't tell you how hungry we were at that point! We opened our apartment door one night to find the grocery bags, full of groceries on our kitchen floor. I don't know how they got in, and I don't know who it was but we are forever grateful! Christmas Angels, I tell you. They also left a baby doll cradle for the girls.
That next year, Anthony had just barely (and I mean barely, barely) started his own framing business and we had just bought a house (moved in December 5th).... same one we're in now. Business started out GREAT and Christmas was fun. Baby H had joined us by that time.
The following year, things were still rockin' and rollin' with the business and we spent more on Christmas that year than we ever had (or have since). It wasn't extremely outlandish or anything but we had good one. We were even able to help someone out that needed it. Paying it forward from the year that we needed the help.
After that, things took a turn for the worst and the business plummeted with the market. No one was building houses anymore and we went from a steady flow of income to absolutely nothing at all. It was horrible! That year for Christmas, we were able to scrape a few bucks together and have a great Christmas. There weren't a lot of presents that year but the kids didn't notice. They were just excited that Santa had come.
Baby C made his entrance that year and, once again, things were tight. Still no job, just odd jobs here and there, hoping and waiting for the market to pick back up. It never did! Between the odd jobs and selling unwanted items here and there, we were able to scrape by and pay some of our bills. But what were we going to do about Christmas? A few Christmas Angels stepped in that year. A friend of mine from high school brought over a Christmas card with $250. I don't even know how she knew.... We hadn't been in touch for years! We also had some friends that brought us an envelope with some cash in it, claiming that someone had asked them to give it to us anonymously. We're pretty sure that it was from those friends themselves.
Not only that but twice that year, people left anonymous envelopes of cash on our porch. They did the whole doorbell ditching thing. One of them contained either $400 or $500. I don't remember, I just remember it was a pretty large amount. We still don't know who to thank for those. I'm sure it was someone in our ward but we'll never know for sure, I suppose. We were able to pay some more bills and Santa was able to come. Christmas would have been a no go that year without our Christmas Angels.
This was the year that our wonderful ward stepped in. My Relief Society president called and insisted that the ward help us out last year. As hard as it was to accept the help, we knew that without this help, Santa would be a no-show. More Christmas Angels! Anthony was in the process of becoming an insurance agent at this point. He passed the test on December 15, 2009! What a blessing that was! And he was appointed March 1, 2010 after the two month training.
It's always hardest to talk about NOW.... We've received help in the past and we will always be grateful for the help we've received. This year has been no exception to the struggles we've had. It's been another rough year but the thing is, I don't know that many outside our families know. That's what makes this year so different.
Anthony is doing great in his business as an insurance agent. He's hit every goal that Farm Bureau has set for him and beyond. But starting a business is hard. It costs a lot of money to keep it running and since he's not yet getting residuals, things have been pretty tight. He's absolutely LOOOOVING his new career and that's great!
We've known that this year would be tight for Christmas but we had no idea how tight it would become. And we certainly didn't expect anyone else to see a need to help us out with Christmas this year. We hadn't solicited for it. So, imagine my surprise when, just before Thanksgiving, my RS president calls once again and tells me that someone in the neighborhood wanted to help us out with Christmas. She didn't give me a name, only saying that they wanted to help and they wanted a list. Anthony was less than thrilled that he would have to accept help yet again but graciously accepted. After all, he realized that things were tight and not going to get any better before Christmas. What we didn't realize was that these people were going to provide everything that Santa would be bringing. We had only thought they were "helping". Turns out, Santa would have been a no-show if it hadn't been for them. Things have been much tighter than we had anticipated. They gave us more for the kids than we could have ever hoped for.
We found out a few weeks ago when they called to deliver the gifts. I won't divulge the names because I don't know how they would feel about that but I have to give credit where credit is due. So, I want to thank these mortal angels for their generosity and kindness. The time and money they've spent to make sure my kids have a wonderful Christmas will never be forgotten. And although I am unable to pay them back in money, I can promise to pay it forward someday when I am able. Anthony and I are forever grateful. After all, where would we be without these special people in our lives?
Are you seeing a trend here? All of these angels in our lives have been our Santa Claus! He truly does exist, he is a great representation of the Christmas Spirit. He expects nothing in return for his kindness.
Remember Jesus' birth this Christmas. He truly is the reason for the season! The gifts we receive are a representation of the gifts the three wise men brought to him in that lowly stable.