Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Different Christmas Day - 2013

Anyone that has been around me for longer than 5 minutes knows that I was struggling with how this Christmas was going to play out.  I was struggling with our older two daughters and their husbands, (as well as our new grandson),  having other plans/being out of town and the day just being “sad” with missing being together as a family…blah, blah, blah…whaaa.

I’d actually like to “publicly” apologize
to all that I wept with or complained to. 
Sorry you had to put up with my “bah humbug” attitude.

With our youngest daughter (18 year old college freshman) at home with us – I used her as my “excuse” to be worried with how the day would play out.  While I was concerned over making the day special for Brooke,  I was also feeling a little (ok...more than "a little") weird about having just Tom, Brooke and me sitting around the Christmas tree staring at each other after exchanging a few gifts (all of which Brooke asked for/knew about…one she even bought for me to give to her!)

I was actually surprised, proud and happy when Brooke insisted that we just wait to “do Christmas” till our family could all be together – on January 2nd.  So – with that plan in place, we decided to find a place to serve on December 25th.

Having no luck finding a charity/organization to partner with, we prayed about it and then came up with our own plan to reach out to our neighbors (something that’s been heavy on our minds after a recent home fire across the street)!  “Operation Bless Our Neighbors/Friends” began a week ago with a “planning meeting” at Panera and included two loooong days/nights of baking!

Christmas morning we woke early, finished one more batch of peppermint patties and packed up the many bags/tins to deliver.  We typed up a note to attach for our neighbors…as well as a different one for our friends.
We began in our neighborhood…left the house around 10:30am and walked house to house.  We made it clear that we were just “dropping off and running” (no pressure for them to invite us in, etc.) and were greeted with surprised looks and lots of shocked “Wow!  That’s so nice of you!” comments (evidently, passing gifts to your neighbors…or even getting out to meet them…is somewhat of a shock to most these days).

We didn’t freak our new friends (neighbors) out by asking them to pose for a picture but – here we are as we were heading out the door…

After walking our street, we loaded up the car and made random stops…some were “obvious”ones- like good friends and lifegroup peeps that were in town…but some were people that we KNEW were shocked to see a new pastor/co-worker (hasn’t even officially started work yet) and his sweet family who just moved here from California -
….And then there was a special stop at Brooke’s “second home” (best friend’s house) from the time that she was 4 years old – up until about 10th grade. The girls text occasionally and “like” stuff on instagram/facebook but haven’t been physically together for the last few years. It was JOY to make our surprise stop to reconnect – and they seemed genuinely touched that we came by.
We found most friends un-showered, bed hair/no makeup, and still in their sweats or Pj’s (one even ran past the front door half dressed…oops/haha!)...but we were greeted with big hugs and all were willing to take a picture!  Here are just a few...


Our second to last stop was totally unplanned and really “different”…while driving past the “Haggard Farm”, Tom decided that he really wanted to stop, offer cookies and thank the family for providing so much joy for us over the years.  Our girls have grown up loving all of the animals on the large piece of property (in the middle of Plano) and Tom announced, “If we go by and the front gate is open, I’m going up!” -  Keep in mind,  we have no idea what “Haggards” actually live there! We were ALL shocked when the large security gate was actually open and so we just made the long trip up the main drive…right to the front door.  Unfortunately, Tom knocked…and knocked…and knocked…but no one answered.  It was so cute to see him standing proudly at the door (Brooke and I stayed in the car – ready to make a quick getaway…in case security was called!!) with Brooke sweetly whispering, “Please answer…please answer…this is so important to him, I really want them to answer!” (She loves her daddy!)

What I loved about today was the spirit in which “Operation Bless Our Neighbors/Friends” was carried out.  Brooke and I spent hours together making lists and baking, baking, baking.  Tom joined us this morning as “head of operations”/packing and then navigating us through neighborhoods.  We loved taking “group selfies” at the doors with our friends at each stop.  We loved saying “Merry Christmas”, in person, to so many people that we love…and hope to grow closer to in the coming year.

I’m not sure how we will carry out this new TRADITION in the future but, Christmas morning now looks differently to us...

...and I’m already dreaming of the year we rent a HUGE bus/party van and load up the adults and ALL the grandkids and drive around town together!  Ahhhhh…the thought alone brings me GREAT joy!

Happy Birthday Jesus…I’m so very thankful for the gift of you!
It was fun to PAR-TAY with you today!  - just sayin.