One of my favorite Christmas traditions each year is the delivering of a little something to those that have loved, supported and shared the year with us. This year was no exception. The kids and I sat down and made a list of those people to whom we wanted to share a bit of Christmas cheer with, as well as say “Thank You!” Paul looked over the list and added a few more families too. Once the list was made, we decided on what to give them . . .
GingerSnap found these cute, tiny bottles of jam at PriceSmart and since Costa Rica LOVES our homemade bread, we decided to make tiny loaves of bread to go along with the jam.
Paul and I found bright green sacks and brilliant red tissue paper at Pequeno Mundo (think a collision of “Big Lots” and “The Dollar Tree” in one store). But we needed something to make the gift pop.
Remember my friend Shayla? Well, among the tree decor she left behind was a bag full of Christmas bells. The kids loved them and wanted to play with them but when I explained the symbology of the bell, I realized that it went perfectly with our Christmas Gift. So we figured out a way to add them to each Christmas gift. (I think the bit of ribbon and bell looks a bit like holly – another symbol of Christmas.)
Of course we had to share a Christmas message. This year I felt inspired to share a message that tied in with the bread and jam. Since our Savior is the living bread, I found a few scriptures from St. John 6:32-35 that helped teach this thought but also hoped that the sweetest of this knowledge would be symbolic of the jam. We also threw in a few peppermints, sharing that although times in our lives can be a bit “spicy”, it is also soothing and comforting to learn that we can endure “hard things” that later can become sweet to us.
We put our message on the back of a “Pass Along Card” from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and included an additional (unaltered) card for them to do with as they pleased. We hope they will feel inspired to share this card with someone they feel would also like to hear the Good News of the Gospel, for Jesus Christ truly is . . .
“the Light, the Life and the Hope of the World!” – The Living Christ
Although making the gifts is fun, delivering them is even better. Seeing the smiles of surprise and gratitude warms the heart. My VERY FAVORITE experience this year was when El Gringo hopped out of our car to deliver one of the gifts to our friend Jonathan. Jonathan became close to the Bishop’s heart and we have shared some fun memories with him while Paul was Bishop. Sadly, Jonathan isn’t coming around much anymore but he will forever be a star in our night sky. We love Jonathan and each of us wanted him to get one of our gifts, so were profoundly grateful that we found him, sitting in his wheelchair, in front of his neighborhood “Mom and Pop shop” Sunday afternoon.
The Elders happened to be walking by, right at that moment, and asked if they could take El Gringo and Jonathan’s picture. I wish I had done so as well, but I didn’t want to embarrass Jonathan. But the look on Jonathan’s face was one of wonder and gladness. As El Gringo walked back to the car, he waved his hands in a happy “Thank You!” When we were making our way out of the neighborhood, we drove past Jonathan once more. This time he puts his arms in the sign of “I love you!” and tipped his head in respect for our family. Such love was felt in THAT moment.
El Gringo does not cease to amaze me. He has grown so very much in the last 3 years, not just in height but in stature. In humor too (the white in his hair was stuffing from a dog Paul had re-stuffed for the kids. He put it in his hair like it was nothing, making each of us chuckle a bit.)
He has grown in ways I did not know could be possible. He was my right arm while we delivered the Christmas bags. He willingly translated for me at any home I could not communicate in and he lovely explained to each recipient that this gift was for them. The look on their faces was of pure joy and respect for him.
In our family, El Gringo is fulfilling the role as Big Brother in leaps and bounds. I am so thankful Joy Boy has had this one-on-one time with him, sharing a bedroom while also homeschooling. What little brother could ask for more? I am also deeply grateful that El Gringo has helped Curly Cook learn to read. She mentions CONSTANTLY that El Gringo is her reading teacher and he taught her to read, so she can read! I especially appreciate the relationship he has developed with GingerSnap. She sincerely does too! I think Seminary will bring those two even closer together.
I love El Gringo’s way of life. He is so imaginative and always thinking about things from a new and different perspective. I LOVE how he is always quick to “play” with the kids and include them in what he is thinking. Especially when he includes them in creating new worlds, new games, new countries or characters for his book he is writing. I will miss these moments with him living at home. He is growing so fast!
After we delivered most of our Christmas Bags, El Gringo and GingerSnap attended Seminary Graduation for our new Stake, with their Dad, to support their friends who were graduating that night. While they were gone, I got to work on cutting out our graham cracker houses for FHE the next night we were having with some friends we invited to come over. The family all came back together that evening in time to enjoy some homemade chocolate chip cookies and roast beef sandwiches for dinner. They also help build their own houses. It was a WONDERFUL end to a busy but glorious day!
This is my FAVORITE song this year! May you feel the love I have for you in this song.
Thanks for listening,