The last several years our family has been running a very tight ship. We always have what we need and even when it doesn't look like we are going to have much to eat I will search though the freezer and find amazing things that I "forgot" were there like steak or salmon. That's just how God is, He provides from His glorious riches and knows just what His children need at the time.
Adding Christmas to an already barely-able-to-make-ends-meet income is a challenge. In years past I have fretted and worried and God always came through even if it was the 11th hour most years. One year our family was "adopted" by a local moms group. That was a very humbling year and the one when I realized that God is really the One who provides every thing we have. I have always known that truth in my head by heart knowledge is so much richer. I have worried less and less each year as God has shown me that He can be trusted. The next year there was an envelope with cash that showed up at our church that took care of our Christmas. I don't remember all of the details from year to year just that each year it was nothing short of a miracle that allowed us to have packages under the tree for our children on Christmas morning.
This year was the same way, a miraculous Christmas. I went in to this year with anticipation, excited to watch the miracle unfold because God has trained me to expect miracles and be watching for them. The miracle started with a gift card given to us for Thanksgiving and a friends and family coupon that gave us an extra 15-20% off of everything depending on the department. I was able to fill all of the stockings with this gift. Early in December and I had the stockings done. That never happens. Usually we are scrambling at the last minute with whatever monies are left to get some items to fill up those socks. Next, my husband got a new client and an extra job. This "extra" money allowed us to be able to shop for some items for the kids. We had a budget and decided if we were going to scrimp anywhere it could be with David because he's still too little to really "get it". We had wanted to get him a workbench and tool set. Each one we found was a bit more money than we wanted to spend. I have an affinity for wooden toys. A wooden workbench was out of the question because they are more than twice as expensive as the plastic one are. I decided just for kicks to check out a consignment store. It was not the one I usually frequent but thought I would check it out. There it was a beautiful wooden workbench with the tools and everything. (It even had a chainsaw, my husband loved that!) It was half the price that we had budgeted for each of the kids! Don't you just love how God works?!
With David's gift out of the way and a little extra cushion for the other kids we decided that this year they needed to be given a few dollars to buy a gift for their siblings. There are so many lessons that can be taught in that. We gave them the cash and told them that when it was all said and done they needed to have a gift for each sibling and they could not pocket the change. We let them loose in Target. It was fun to watch as they would pair up to shop, I even let them wrap the gifts themselves. They were so proud on Christmas morning as each sibling went to open the gift they had picked out.
This has been such a tough year for Bekah. My heart wanted to get her something very special. My dream was to get her a real American Girl doll that looked like her. I looked on their website and filled up many imaginary shopping carts (one of the things I love about online shopping is that you can pretend you are buying something). Once I paid for shipping and got some little glasses to match hers and ordered an insulin pump made for a doll, it was just going to be too expensive. It was hard for me to let go of this dream, and I still am getting teary as I type this. This is where my personality flaws probably come in to play. I have an eye for quality and would much rather save for the real thing than have a cheap imitation. I buy a lot of the kids clothes second hand because I would much rather have a second hand Gymboree outfit than a cheap Walmart knock off. (I do buy them clothes from time to time at Walmart, I am not a total snob). I took Bekah to Target and let her look around to give me some ideas for Christmas. This little girl is not super picky and pretty easy to please so I knew if there was a package for her to open on Christmas morning that she would be happy with whatever was inside. We found the Our Generation Dolls (they are a 15" doll that is almost identical to an AG). She was in love! There was one with a riding outfit and a beautiful horse that you could buy to go along with it. I was able to get both the doll and the horse, an insulin pump for her doll, the glasses from AG, a matching pump pouch for Bekah and I still didn't pay what I would have for 1 lone AG doll. Bekah LOVES her doll. 2 of my nieces got real AG dolls and I have to be honest and admit I am jealous and a tad bit angry. (like I said personality flaws are showing here). They didn't go through the hell that Bekah has this year! They don't have to prick their finger 10 times a day or get shots or wear an insulin pump etc. Life is not fair! My thoughts then turned and realized what a spoiled brat I am. I thought of my friends Charlie and Mel (I refer to them as my friends because I pray for them everyday but until two months ago didn't know who they were) who lost their precious daughter to dead in bed syndrome in late October and would have given anything to be able to spend Christmas with her let alone be able to give her a gift. Life indeed is not fair!
On with our miracle. We got the older two kids something from their list and were set for Christmas when a very generous family member gave us a check. We were told that this was NOT to be spent on a bill but to add to what we had already spent on the kids. We went back to the store and had a blast picking out something else that would make their eyes light up with joy on Christmas morning. David loves Toy Story and every where we go when he sees something Toy Story he yells "Buzz and Woody, Buzz and Woody" so he got a Buzz and Woody. Bekah also loves princesses and was eying a set of Barbies dressed in princess attire. The older two kids we just gave some cash to (what teenager doesn't love getting cash). As I tucked the girls into bed last night they said to me "Mom this was the BEST Christmas EVER!"
I got a Salter from my mother in law and some cash to spend on something for me from my other in-laws (we will celebrate with my family on Jan.15 as that was when my sisters could make the trip down, being together is far more important to all of us than giving or getting a gift) so I am a happy camper and even with out those things, I would have to agree that it was indeed the BEST Christmas EVER! My favorite parts were our homeless outreach and watching my kids get so much joy from the gifts we were able to get for them. Now I am praising God for the beautiful miracle He blessed us with this year!