Monday, December 31, 2007

My account of learning what it means
to really get ready for Christmas

Our Christmas eve planning really started about two weeks before with a phone call. One Sunday night we were driving home from church talking (in separate cars on the cell phone) about one family of 3 teenagers who we realized we had overlooked. They are raised by their father who does not practice Christmas. We realized the without some creative Santa'ing, they would have no Christmas. We learned more and realized that they had never had a Christmas morning or tree in their home. Jeff and I both knew if it was possible for them we needed to have them in our home on Christmas Eve and we started making plans for that to take place. We are so greateful the dad shared them with us for their Christmas.
Then before we went to bed that night our phone rang. It was the three wise men that you hear about every year in the Christmas story. Three men from a local ward felt they needed to call us during a Presidency meeting to see if there was any family that may have been overlooked and just wanted to see if there was anything else that they could do.... they wanted to know if they could help out with gifts for a family, just like those three wise men for that story so long ago! Between the tears I had on the phone we made some arrangements to get this in going with less than two weeks before Christmas.
That night while i was on the Church website I found this quote

"We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice.
When it speaks,
wise men and women obey.
Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed."

Thomas S. Monson June 1997

This quote seemed to be the theme for our season as I believe it was the spirit that prompted someone to send $100, to throw a party in CA for a family they will never meet, someone to buy as many scriptures as we needed, a woman to buy a gift card for a woman looking for a new job to buy whole new wardrobe, I could go on and on.
If anything I have learned from this lChristmas, do not wait to act on what you feel. What if all these people would have waited and thought twice about calling or contacting us.

On Christmas Eve morning we started to feel the emotional and physical exhaustion set in. The prior long nights were starting to show in our slow speed, but what else set in was the fact I had not really thought about one thing I was doing for our family for Christmas - this was a mixed blessing. That morning we got up early to start cleaning our house and getting it ready for our 3 guests who Jeff would be picking up in the afternoon. With all of our wrapping, picking up etc I had not done laundry or cleaning anything in a week. We just started going crazy getting everything ready. It was about 10:30 am and I started to feel very tired and then started to get a little bitter. I don't like admitting it but i was. I realized that we missed our annual Christmas Eve Tradition of taking the kids to McDonald's for pancakes. Not that I like McDonald's pancakes I just like traditions. Everything seemed a little out of whack. We were so tired, I had not wrapped one thing for the girls yet, I had not sewn their love gifts, nothing was cooking on the stove and all we were doing was cleaning. I thought this does not even feel like Christmas Eve. As Jeff and I were making up the guest bed I mentioned my feelings to him. He looked at me and said, "is this not what we would be doing if Christ was coming? We would be getting our house as clean and perfect as we could" He always seems to know exactly what I need to hear. This put this in a whole new perspective for me. Even though I thought we were focus our Christmas on giving I then learned what it meant to get ready for Christmas.
(Caroline's Strawberry Soupie, she had picked out the fabric months ago)
While Jeff ran to get a Birthday cake for the girl staying with us, her birthday was also that day. I was able to sew the girls "Love Gifts" (i got the love gifts idea from Mindy's mom) I made each of them a new Soupie in their favorite colors.
Sally Jane is obsessed with the color yellow. It is all she wants to wear these days. If it is yellow it is hers. So this new big Yellow soupie made out of polka dot minkie fabric was just perfect. I had some white satin ruffle forever and was excited to finally use it.

I knew I only had about 1 hour before we had to leave for the nights events on the farm and chose to sew a blanket for our new visitor instead of sewing Annie Kate's Washington Redskin blanket. I was thrilled to have enough fabric to make a big one for her. Annie Kate never noticed that she didn't get one.

Jeff went downtown to pick up our three guests and we were were so excited to have them come and show them where to unpack their bags. I am not a sleep over mom so Annie Kate was beyond thrilled to think she was getting to have a sleepover on Christmas Eve. Our activity was going out to a farm for Christmas eve and have dinner in the barn with a live Nativity presentation and a visit from Santa. It was quite an event putting all that on. We did nothing more than just bring the birthday cake. We actually had 4 members of our ward Birthday that night.

Our ward is lucky enough to have a member with a 15 passenger van that makes it possible to get the youth to these type of activities. He was out of town for Christmas but left the van with someone who was nice enough to bring all the boys out to the farm, almost an hour away from the city.
I just love seeing Jeff with his boys, he really loves these guys. It kind of makes me teary thinking about his relationship with them, so this is all I will say on the subject. (Herb and Sharon you would be so proud of your son!)

The farm had a new 3 week old miniature pony. It was so small it could have ridden on Sally Jane's back. It was fun for the kids to feed it straw and carrots.
They fed so many people! They went through a 100 pounds of meat that night.

This is a photo of one of Annie Kate's favorite boys. She loves this guy but also thinks she is as tough as him too. He came and found me during the night and brought Annie Kate to me and said, "I am giving you back Annie Kate, she is out in the woods with the big boys and you don't want her out here" She loves Jeff's boys as much as Jeff. She was sentenced the rest of the night to the barn for her own safety.

I made all the missionaries get together for a photo. This is all the Elders serving in our ward (2 sets of Couple missionaries are missing) A ward normally has one set maybe two. I served my mission in North Dakota and this is what our district looked like. It is just awesome and shows if we need this many missionaries in our ward what amazing things are happening. The cool thing about this photo is that three of them are from France (Michelle I wish you were here) and two of them are brothers! How dreamy for a mom to have her sons serving together. We have many French speaking members in our ward.
Annie Kate was thrilled she got to be an angel in the live Nativity.
Caroline gave her last minute requests to Santa

she kept climbing up the barn rafters and it is a miracle no bones were broken.

We came home and our Christmas angels opened new pj's, only the boys didn't want to pose for a photo.

Then before we went to bed we realized we had not dropped off our last night of the nativity for our 12 days of Christmas. it was 9:00 pm. So me and the two older girls ran out to do our last drop off in our pj's. This year we gave the manger and then wrapped in a box the baby Jesus. I actually wrapped it box after box so it would take them a long time to open it. I put a tag telling the family how much they are loved and that this is to be the last gift they open on Christmas morning. I think we went the whole 12 days of them not knowing it was us. I hope I hope!

before we went to bed Santa was walking past our front door and I tried to take a photo only to come out blurry. (thank goodness for our friend who did it this year to save Jeff from putting on the suit)
we put out our carrots and celery on the front steps for the reindeer
then the girls finally went to bed and the fun began. Staying up with two teenage boys having them help us wrap gifts and put together this princess castle (a total summer score from a garage sale) was about the funnest thing ever! They were cracking us up. The oldest boy got put in charge of the Littlest Pet shop house. While we were wrapping and building he stopped and thanked us for giving him and his brother and sister a Christmas Eve and morning. They had no idea that our 3 wise men had brought loads and loads of gifts for them to open the next morning. I could hardly stand how excited I was for them to wake up.
I think the boys stayed up watching Disney movies while we said goodnight to our Santa filled room...
and at 1:05 am, we finally laid down to go to sleep. Only to be woken the next morning by not 3 but 6 EXCITED kids wanting to see what Santa brought them.

and then Christmas morning....


Natasha said...

WOW, don't stop the story here. Keep going with Christmas morning!

denise said...

I think you have one of the only blogs that makes me cry when I read your posts. What a beautiful Christmas. Lives have been blessed because of the goodness of so many - truly what Christmas should be. I am so glad that you share these experiences with us.

melanie said...

Kristi, the last few posts have been amazing! I love how much you have learned this Christmas and putting it on your blog blesses the rest of us. I love lessons in service. Thanks!

Autumn said...

seriously? I know I've said this 100 times on your blog, but I need to say it again! You are so inspirational!

Thank you so much for sharing your life with the rest of us!!!

Price Cream Parlor said...

I love Jeff's comment! Great timing and so true! I love the excitment that your posts keep building upon. Great journaling for your family! Looks like a sweet night/day to always remember!

Shauna said...

This post took more than a few tissues! Thank you for sharing, thank you for following the spirit and acting on what you knew had to be done!
Just pondering what I would be doing if the Savior was coming to my house... oh what a thought.
Thank you, Thank you for the insight and for sharing this sweet chapter of your life!

My name is Andrea said...

You make me smile.

Jen said...

this is amazing- it's so wonderful to see that miracles still occur- and that they often happen because of those who are listening for the promptings to enact them. i love it- thanks for sharing! said...

YOU CAN'T STOP !!!!!!!!!

I can not wait to hear about Christmas morning and see pictures!! This is better than any book I have ever read! What a great life you are teaching your girls to live!! You are one AMAZING family!!!

Anna said...

I'm loving these Christmas posts. Thanks for sharing all these sweet experiences. It makes me want to do so much more for others next Christmas (and throughout the year). Thanks for inspiring! And for recording it for everyone to read!

LJ said...

Love the story of course, and LOVE that Sunny sunny. Seriously that might be the most beautiful minkie and you know I heart my hot pink one. I bet the girls LOVED that mini pony!

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Ditto to everyone else's comment, Kristi. Way to live and tell a true fairy tale!

Anonymous said...

I loved all experiences you shared about your Christmas this year Kristi. This truly will be a Christmas you, Jeff and the girl will never forget. I've been moved to tears everytime I have read your posts. Thanks for sharing and thanks again for letting the Trammell Clan be a small part of it. We love you guys!

Ashley said...

I am loving reading your blog. I love the stories. i think about your ward all the time and the thoughtful things that you do. What a Christmas!

I also cry when I read your blog.

RoRo said...

How could you stop there???? I'm dying!!!! This is the greatest Christmas ever! I may have to print this off and we read this story every year for Christmas. I can't wait to read about Christmas morning.

The 5 Bickies said...

I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. When did you uncover what you had stored away for your visitors?

As others have said, I cry every time i read your blog. I am so touched by your service to those in your community. We followed your lead and did the 12 days of nativity for a neighbor who recently separated. The children ran to the delivery bag every day. We felt such a thrill knowing they loved it. And the Mom was so appreciative. We can't wait to do it again next year.

Thanks for inspiring us to reach out to others and to be a stronger family.

Happy New year!

Nikki said...

Just when I think this can't get any better- you have more to share! Just so inspiring and uplifting! Thank you for sharing!

crystal said...

Your family is changing lives. How does that FEEL? Wow. You're doing great work, Kristi. I often think of Sheri Dew when I read your posts and how she writes of each one of us having a specific purpose on this earth. I think you must be getting closer & closer to understanding your purpose. You're such a neat person.

I love that Pres. Monson quote! I'm going to record it in my book of quotes.

michelle said...

What a cliffhanger! I was just commenting to Jill yesterday that I didn't know how you had time to do anything for your own family this Christmas. I'm sure I would have had some of those bitter feelings on Christmas Eve as well. How sweet that Jeff was able to bring your focus back -- what a great thing you have done together. I can't wait to hear about Christmas morning!

Liz said...

Wow, what a fantastic Christmas. You are so kind and generous to share such a special time with strangers. I am sure they will never forget it. Bless you and your family.

feltc said...

The tears are streaming. Thank you so much for sharing the true meaning and beauty of this season through your blog. I can't wait for the rest of the story!

Traci said...

Yet another wondreful post, can't wait to read about Christmas day! That was so thoughtful and nice of you and your family to open your doors to those kids and share your Christmas with them. Very touching.
So love the live nativity too!

Michelle A. said...

I just love your ward photos! It's like looking into my ward here in Montreal! This year we are singing Called to serve in primary, so I brought all our missionaries - totalling 8 - in for singing time and had them sing "Called to serve" to the junior primary! It was so much fuN! I'm so happy for your wonderful experience!

Jill said...

I'm so glad you're filling in the rest of the story, I can't believe how it has all unfolded so beautifully. I think it's totally normal that you would have felt the fatigue of all your efforts and the frustration of not having taken care of your own Christmas plans, but it's also wonderful that Jeff pointed out the similarity of your efforts to those you'd be doing if the Savior was coming to stay. It's brilliant how words like that can change things immediately and snap us out of our mortal moment. I'm glad you shared this though, because it's nice to know you're human in the middle of these acts of service.

pam said...

Your posts always tend to make me teary. How thankful I am for your insight and willingness to share. Very few of us understand what it is to live and serve in an inner city ward and how much joy we find in doing it. Thank you for listening to the still small voice and for loving those you come in contact with. You'll never fully know the difference that you have made in someone elses life.