I have so many memories of Christmases – before Roland, after Roland, childhood, on and on and on.
This year we will be celebrating twelve years together. Half of them with financial struggles and at least three with sub for Santa.
When I first moved in to our first house (Roland and the boys had already been living there for six months) it was September of 2001. In December our family was targeted as the “twelve days of Christmas” recipients. And that was fun and I felt very welcome to the area.
Our first tree was an artificial Charlie Brown – the kind that gets used in a window display as part of the winter scenery – but not necessarily Christmas. It is what would be used in a window selling skis or snow blowers or something – an insignificant tree that blends in to the background – the absolute smallest tree that I had ever encountered during my lifetime.
Maybe the second to the smallest - but skinnier
(Apparently it was so small that I did not get a picture of it – and as it was so pathetic, I cannot even find anything on the internet that will match it. I did not get my first digital camera until Jenna was three; maybe that’s why I can’t find anything)
We had purchased two gifts for each of the boys. We opened our gifts in the back room where we had placed and decorated our tiny tree.
When we had our second Christmas, Ooki was living with us. It was the first time he had celebrated the holiday. We showed him how to decorate the tree. We had a large unwrapped gift for each boy. Roland and I woke them up at like 5:30 or six. It was too early for all of them – even Randy.
Our financial struggles were really bad the year I was pregnant with Jenna – it may have been the worse for us – though we were still in the same house another five years – so maybe not?
The experience that touches me the most (as I still cry when I tell it) is the year we were assigned to bring potatoes to the family dinner. All month I had been trying to save up with any spare change – I had made a jar and labeled it “the potato fund” (or something like that) and asked each of the boys to assist Roland and me with our attempts to fill the jar. (I don’t think we ever reached a dollar as Tony would take more than he would give)
Two days before the dinner there was a knock on my door. I opened the door to find this Nephite (he wasn’t dressed as a Nephite, but seemed to have that same stature as he filled the entire door frame) standing in my doorway with a bag of potatoes. He handed them to me and told me that his mom wanted me to have them. And then he was gone.
My tears were (and still are) of gratitude, but brought concern to the ReliefSociety president who came by to drop off our sub for Santa gifts. She asked why I was crying and I explained. The worse part of it all was I didn’t know who the Nephite was. But she figured it out and told me and I was actually kind of embarrassed that I hadn’t known.
My mom called just as the RS pres. Left. She told me that I didn’t have to bring potatoes if it was going to hurt us financially. And I started crying again.
Randy was excited about all the gifts beneath the tree – while the other two were embarrassed over the very idea that we were a product of charity. I was a bit embarrassed that there were so many gifts – way more than we had had the first two years combined. There were even presents there for Roland and me.
Someone had donated an overgrown bag (like the kind you see Santa carrying) full of oversize shirts (Roland was on the heavier side back then) although none of them wrapped. We did have wrapping paper, and so I went through the bag, sorting shirts, wrapping some for Roland and some of them for me (as some of them felt nice on my pregnant belly)
And then when we lost our first house and moved into the smaller one (where we live currently) the ward we once belonged to followed us over with more sub for Santa gifts – mostly for Jenna. They also supported our two boys who were out on missions.
We have been in this house for three years now – but this is our forth Christmas. Last year Randy proposed to Carrie. This will be their first Christmas as a married couple. This will be Tony and Rochelle’s first Christmas as mom and dad. Our first Christmas as grandparents – though we won’t actually be seeing them – unless they fly in for the holidays. They have been here once this year already.
Jenna's very excited for Christmas this year. She's already made several drawings depicting the holidays.