Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Miracle…My Fondest Christmas Memory

The year was 1979 – I remember every detail of this Christmas so vividly. For one thing, it was the first time that I had ever spent Christmas Eve anywhere except in the home of my parents. But here we were - my entire family including my parents - all spending the night at my older sister’s house. Let me explain why the sudden change of plans…

It had only been a little over two months since my sister Rebecca’s husband was tragically killed. He was on his way home from playing golf with his buddies, and he called my sister to say that he would be home in just a few minutes because he wanted to be able to kiss the kids goodnight. My nephew, Jesse, was four months old at the time, and my niece, Rachel, was three and a half. My brother-in-law, Al, was a very hardworking man who loved God and his family, and he always did what he said he was going to do. A few minutes turned into over an hour, and then another hour and then another. My sister knew something was wrong, so she called around to no avail. Just after midnight, the doorbell rang and when my sister opened the door, she saw two state troopers standing there. They proceeded to tell her that her husband had been run off the road by a drunk driver. He hit a tree and was killed instantly.

This was one of the most difficult times our family has ever known, so we all knew that we would go to Rebecca’s house for Christmas to be with her and her two children. Obviously Jesse, the four month old, was too young to remember, but Rachel kept asking where her dad was. My sister would tell her he was in heaven. We knew that it would be a tough Christmas, but we were all amazed at Rebecca’s strength. We all kind of spread out in the house – some slept on the couch, some on the floor, and some in beds. What mattered was that we were all there together.

As we got up on Christmas morning and gathered around the Christmas tree to watch three and a half year old, Rachel, open her Christmas presents, I was thankful that we all had a reason to suck it up and be excited for her. Every three and a half year old is excited when they’re opening Christmas presents. She was just finishing opening the last present when the doorbell rang. We all looked at each other as if to say, “Who on Earth would be paying us a surprise visit on Christmas morning when it is usually a time when everyone is at home with their families?” So my sister went to the door just to see if perhaps someone’s car had broken down or something like that. When she opened the door, there was a middle-aged man standing there. We heard Rebecca call him by name as it turned out it was a friend of hers and Al’s that owned the local Western Auto store. He was standing on the porch with a small bicycle with training wheels on it. We were all close enough to the front door that we could hear what was being said. This man proceeded to tell my sister that the morning that Al was killed, he had stopped by his store to pick out Rachel’s Christmas present. He explained that he couldn’t help but think that God wanted him to deliver the present to Rachel since her daddy meant for her to have it. I watched Rebecca take a deep breath, smile, and say ‘Oh let me go get my checkbook so I can pay you.’ He put his hand up in the air and said, “No! There is no way you are going to pay for this. It is my joy to be able to deliver this gift at my expense.” My sister thanked him and we all got tears in our eyes, rolled the little bicycle into the living room, and said, “Hey Rachel, look...your daddy sent you a Christmas present from heaven!” Because Rachel was only three and a half, she didn’t try to figure out how that was possible, she just received the gift with such joy. It was so special.

Even though it was a very painful time for our family, that is without a doubt my fondest Christmas memory. It was obvious that this was not just a gift from Rachel’s earthly father, but it was a gift that had been orchestrated by our Heavenly Father for us all.

I think it is so appropriate that I am sharing this blog on Christmas Eve. Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, I hope that you will make the most of the time that you have with your family and loved ones.

If you have a moment, I would love for you to use the comment section to briefly write about your fondest Christmas memory. I am sure it will bless us all to hear it.

Merry Christmas to all.



Kewiki said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. I think my fondest Christmas memories were the ones when things were tough. It's when we focus less on commercialism and more on the real meaning of Christmas that we are truly blessed. God bless you Nancy and Merry Christmas!

Emilee Connell said...

My fondest Christmas memory happened when I was in middle school. I used to ride the bus everyday to and from school. And everyday, a little girl probably about 5 or 6 years old named Isabella sat beside me. She was so special. I knew that she didn't have very much. Her clothes were really worn out--stained with holes. I knew her Christmas was likely to be very small if any at all. So I remember telling my mom I wanted to do something special for Isabella for Christmas. We got coloring books and crayons for her and wrapped them in Christmas paper. On the last day before school let out for the holidays, I carried the present to school just waiting for little Isabella to get on the bus. She did and of all days, she didn't sit with me. I could barely stand it holding that gift in my hand wanting so badly to give it to her but I waited. Finally we made it school and we all got off the bus. She was walking ahead of me so I called out her name and she turned back to me. I held out the gift and said, "This is for you." I remember looking down at her and seeing she was in complete shock. She whispered looking up to with her big eyes, "For me?". I said yes and she took the gift. She walked along side me into the school holding the gift like it was gold even though it was really only cost a few dollars. She kept looking up at me like I was some angel or something. What she didn't know was that she was really like an angel to me and I have never forgotten and never will forget her expression when she asked, "For me?". Isabella moved that next year and I have no idea to where but I pray wherever Isabella is this Christmas that she knows the greatest gift ever given was the gift of God's love to her. Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing your fondest (and worst) Christmas memories.

staceylancaster said...

Hey Nancy!That was awesome!
I still have a fond memory of Christams at Mercy, and coming home being 8 monthes pregnant but being at complete peace!LAst Chirstmas my mom handed down my grandmother's engagement ring to me I was touched. We found out later it is a blue diamond! But besides the materlial value of the ring there is a legacy of love I now wear on my finger. This is a reminder of the love my family was built on and future family to come!I hope you have an amazing Christmas adn safe New years! May God's grace and blessing shine down on you!
Love you!

staceylancaster said...

God jsut reminded me of a special Christmas! The christmas of 99, I recieved my first phone call from Susan ( who adopted my son) and was able to hear my son's laughter for the first time! It was music to my ears, as well as gave me confirmation on how happy he truly was that was seen in the pictures sent to me.

It was the beginging of a strong relationship of love and trust between Susan and I.

My son is going on 10 this coming up year, I have now seen him 4 times. I was blessed again this past August to see him. I commented on his beautiful blue eyes to him, he informed me that they were from me and that I was just silly for asking! I stood in complete awe, realizing he was aware of who I was to him!
When talking to Susan about it later, she informed me he carries a special love for only me, that touched my heart so much! It was a deep healing to my heart as well. For 10 years I carried a fear that he would feel rejection form the adoption, and God confirmed he did not on top of loving me!
My mother and I feel that as the years go by the relationship between my son and I will strengthen! God id good isn't He!

~Scot, Lisa, and Timmy said...

Thanks for sharing. My fondest Christmas memory is the one I spent while at Mercy Ministries when we stayed in host homes. I stayed with Jana and Todd Foster. That Christmas was life changing for me because I got to see how Christmas should really be celebrated with a family who loves God. They were a huge blessing to me and didn't have to be. As a result of the huge impact they made on me I am still in contact with them to this day. They have become one of my closest and dearest friends even though we rarely get to see one another.

Bethany said...

i think one of my fondest memories would have to be this Christmas...a friend of mine at school blessed me with the opportunity to go home with her, to England, and spend Christmas there, and it was an incredible opportunity as it is really was a dream come true - and the entire trip it was like God was just 'setting up' little blessings, chance encounters, it really reminded me how much He is delighted in us & loves to see the dreams He has given us be outworked! It was amazing.