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Christmas at the Door

December 7, 2011

Hello friends.  I’ve been quiet, I know.  I feel like a lot is going on and nothing is going on all at the same time.  So here is some of that lot of nothing that I’ve been up to and thinking about for the past little while.  Illustrated with phone pics which are grainy and blurry but I haven’t picked up my real camera for weeks.  More on that later.  Creamie is getting better (for now) and she got a flu shot which I REALLY hope helps her stay healthier this winter.  She is so excited for Christmas she can hardly stand it.  She saw Santa at the church party.  She wants to watch The Grinch and sing Jingle Bells every single day. I am excited about Christmas too.  And all it took was one huge (to me) act of genuine goodness, kindness and love.  Let me tell you a story, which is hard for me to tell, so if you feel the need/desire to comment, please be kind.

My grandmas salt and pepper shakers. So glad I saved these from the trash!

I’ve mentioned over the past few months that Scott got a new job, is now working crazy hours and is gone a lot more than he was.  What I haven’t so much mentioned is anything about his old job.  He and a few partners owned a civil engineering firm.  It was a wonderful opportunity for a while, but after the housing bubble burst here in the USA things changed.  (Civil Engineering is designing subdivisions,  roadways, pipelines, sewer systems, etc.  All things that are in about as much demand as new subdivisions.  Which lately has been zero.)  Their firm layed off a lot of employees just a few months after Creamie was born in 2009.  That allowed them to keep the company open and still give a few people work on a contract basis, but still save a lot of money in taxes and medical insurance premiums.  They had some good projects.  We were surviving.  Barely.  But making it more or less.

Handmade crocheted snowflakes. A wedding gift 8 years ago from a little old grandma in my neighborhood.

Things went along for better or worse for two years.  We always felt like we were still doing what we were supposed to be doing. We still felt like we were on the right path.  They were working hard.  Constantly trying out new projects and areas.  Solar, Hydro-power, all sorts of awesome new things.  They always had a few good projects in the works the kept us all afloat.  And then this past spring things changed drastically.  Work was scarcer, clients had gone bankrupt or disappeared leaving us with piles of open invoices.  Lots of interest in the new kinds of projects, but no money to fund them.  And everything was hanging (and still is) on one last big project that has been pushed back and postponed for one reason or another for the past 3 years.  (On December 19th cross your fingers for us, we are getting closer to seeing this one become a reality, just a few more hoops to jump… I hope.)  By the beginning of summer we knew we had to look for something else.  Now.  Things quickly got worse at work.  Then worse again.  Who knows how many paychecks we have skipped over the past few years, but this spring and summer were particularly bad.  For the first time ever we knew we had to find something else immediately.  Scott applied for jobs.  Lots of jobs.  Applied for jobs for 8 hours a day.  And we heard nothing.  I cried a lot.  I ate a lot of Oreos.  Standard coping mechanisms.

Nutcracker soldiers I thrifted a few years ago. I love these guys.

And then the first of August he finally got an interview.  One interview.  He aced it.  He was hired out of 140 applicants and 11 interviewees in a unanimous board decision.  It was not a moment too soon.  (And perhaps a few moments later than I would have preferred.)  But the Lord works in mysterious ways and looking back we can see that He prepared us for this opportunity for a long time.  Anyway, his new job is awesome.   His coworkers are awesome.  He loves his work.  We have great benefits.  Good insurance, with zero out of pocket premium for us.  I have dental insurance for the first time in my life.  I might get my wisdom teeth out next year! (Yep, all four are hanging out in there hurting and driving me nuts everytime I brush my teeth.)  But the best part?  He goes to work every week and they pay him for that.  Like, hand out paychecks on Fridays and stuff.  But wait, get this, the money is magically already in the bank.  They just stick it right in your account.  It is amazing.  And then two weeks later They. Do. It. Again.  And then again.  It’s a beautiful system.  Really, an amazingly beautiful system.

Baking cookies.

Anyway, that was four months ago.  And things are better.  So so much better.  But there are still those three-ish years of missed paychecks and bankrupt/dirty-rotten-no-good-corrupt clients to deal with.  And it will take time to be out from under all of that.  This Christmas was looking to be really lean.  Leaner than any other we’ve had in our almost 8 years.  I have enough craft supplies and fabric that Creamie would never know the difference.  She is all set to wake up to a child’s dreamland of handmade toys on Christmas morning.  And Scott and I were OK deciding to forgo gifts this year.  We have each other, we have a warm home, food to eat and clothes to wear.  We have a good job and a lot of faith that all things will eventually work out for our good in the end.  But I knew that there wasn’t any extra money this Christmas.  None, not even for little things.  We got slapped with a $300 HOA fee from our less than awesome condo board a few weeks ago and it had to be paid.  (Everyone under our HOA board jurisdiction had to pay it.  It’s not because we didn’t clean up our patio or had weird crap hung in the windows or anything.)  And there went Christmas.  To the HOA board.  Lame.

Cocoa and the last of the gingerbread boys for a bedtime snack.

I don’t care about the presents, neither does Scott.  What I really want for Christmas is a whole weekend to work in my craft room and sew and make pie.  And like I said, there is enough fabric stacked up in my house that Creamie will have the best handmade Christmas a girl could hope to have.  But what it really meant was that there was no money for a tree this year.  Not even a little one.  I arrived at this conclusion the day before Thanksgiving.  It was horrible.  I cried.  And cried.  And then I opened the pantry and made seventeen pies.  I am not joking.  I tried to pretend it didn’t matter, but by that weekend I was sobbing. A lot. At the smallest thing I’d tear up again.

Decorating gingerbread boys. :)

Creamie has been asking for a Christmas tree since we took it down last Christmas.  That girl has a memory like a steel trap, nothing slips through that little mind of hers.  We looked into a few cut your own tree lots, because they are usually a little less expensive.  And we looked into a few programs to cut a tree from government land, but all the permits were all sold out already.  I even looked at fake trees at thrift stores, but they are almost as much as a cut your own lot.  And I had pretty much come to the conclusion that there would be no Christmas tree with popcorn garland and gingerbread boys in my living room this year.  I thought maybe on Christmas Eve I could convince my favorite tree lot guy (we get our trees from him every year, and have since I was a girl) to let me have whatever he had left and we could decorate it then.  And it would be fine.  And Creamie would love it.  But I would have felt like Christmas was missing at my house for the whole of December.  And that made my heart sick and it made me cry.

And then a small miracle happened.  One that restores my faith in people, faith in Christmas, faith in love and goodwill toward men.  Friday afternoon there was a loud knock on my door.  REALLY loud. And the doorbell at the same time.  I looked out the peephole (because that is what you do when someone pounds on your door) and there was a miracle on the porch.  A big green miracle that brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. Our Christmas was at the door. We have been doorbell ditched with a huge beautiful Christmas tree.

Tree decorated. So many things that remind me of home.

We had to snip off the top to fit it in the house it was so tall.  Creamie saw it and freaked out, screaming in pure joy.  I just stood there and said a silent prayer of thanks.  Even thinking about it now it makes me cry.  We pulled out the Christmas things.  I opened box after box.  I tested lights and mixed up gingerbread boys and made popcorn.  We spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday stringing popcorn and baking cookies into gingerbread ornaments and hanging candy canes and jinglebells on our big beautiful tree. First thing out of Creamie’s mouth every morning is “Can I do some more Christmas things on the tree?”

Christmas is magic.

It takes up a whole corner of the room, and it looks like it is on fire what with the 1600 lights on it.  (I could have used 700 or so more.  I didn’t do any lights on the bottom half on the side facing the wall.)  And everysingle time I look at it I am reminded of how good some people really are.  And how if we pay attention to the feelings and nudges we have we can work miracles in other people’s lives.  I am so grateful for this small miracle in mine.  I know it is “just a Christmas tree.”  But more than that it is a reminder to me of new life.  Of hope.  Of love.  That no matter how hard or crazy or crappy things are right now, that it will change.  We will get through it.  If pine trees can survive the harsh cold winters year after year and stay beautiful and alive surely I can do this right now.  Things really are going to work out.  Somehow.  Things are going to be “OK”, whatever that means.  Christmas is here in our little house.  And thanks to the kindness of our Christmas Angel it is in my heart too.

51 Comments leave one →
  1. sara permalink
    December 7, 2011 12:46 am

    OMG, I am BAWLING. Thank you for being brave and sharing this, even if it was hard, even if you felt embarrassed, even if you were afraid. I know people say this ALL THE TIME, but I sincerely mean it when I say, “I NEEDED THIS” – right now, tonight, at 12:40 MST in Colorado. Minutes after it posted. I’m sitting in my basement, gloomy, just meh. We have a tree… no, it’s not real, and it’s pre-lit and it’s sorta not very cute anymore (we’ve loved it a lot, I guess), but we have one. And I have not been grateful. I have not stopped to think about how lucky I am to have a tree, a warm house, two little boys who gleefully sing out, “MAMA!” when they get off the bus. Instead, I’ve been thinking about how hard my life is, how sad I feel, how much I hate a Christmas I once loved. So yes, I needed this. Thank you. I’ve said, probably 20 times in the last two days, that we aren’t putting up our tree because our kids have just been naughty. And tonight, you made me rethink it… I mean, they are 4 and 6. Can you REALLY do that to a 4 and 6 year old? Could I really live with myself? But I wouldn’t have thought through it like this without your post. So – again, I say thank you. And thank you, kind person, for the thoughtful gift of a tree. People don’t realize how even the most simple of things (and really, a tree isn’t, but is all at once, how can that be?!) can change a life. That one little act of kindness can change a persons day drastically. I’m going to make it my mission to do that one nice little unexpected and totally anonymous thing for someone today. Bless you, sweet girl. Bless you and your beautiful family. Can’t tell you how glad I am that someone did that for YOU. xoxo

  2. Lynda B permalink
    December 7, 2011 2:44 am

    What a fantastic thing to do for someone! It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s made all the difference in the world to you, and can I also say you’ve done a grand job on the decorating, using just a FEW lights, haha…..I thought I had a fairy light fetish, but apparently not!
    You’re also seem like the type of person who will reciprocate this act of kindness, and so the magic will be passed along, which is as it should be. Bless you, and whoever has done this wonderful thing, have a truly festive magical time over Christmas and the new year, may your days be merry and bright (with all those lights, that shouldn’t be a problem)

  3. December 7, 2011 4:20 am

    What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Have a truly blessed Christmas!

  4. Susan Twilley permalink
    December 7, 2011 6:59 am

    How wonderful!! What comes around goes around because, you have deffinately put some merry out there for others. I’m so happy that someone got some back to you. Merry Christmas!

  5. Drayanna Lambert and family permalink
    December 7, 2011 7:07 am

    God knows the desires of our hearts and is interested in even the smallest things that will bring Christmas to our hearts. God bless you and your family and may you always know the favor of God.

  6. December 7, 2011 7:18 am

    That is truly a Christmas miracle. Creamie really does have an amzing memory to remember having a tree last year at such a young age! At least your hubby has a good job and good insurance. I can’t believe you have zero premium! That is unheard of these days!

  7. December 7, 2011 7:29 am

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m so glad that Creamie has a tree that she ‘can do things to’. I love all the lights! Its beautiful. Our tree is artificial and only the top third of it would light up, so I got out all my extra lights. My husband was like ‘we only need 2 or three strands’. Ha. We have at least six on that sucker. And I still feel like I could use one or two more. I’ve had a hard time working up much enthusiasm for Christmas this year. Thank you for reminding me that whats really important is what we do for others.
    God is good, all the time. As a matter of fact, my husband reminds me that we can’t outgive God. He will supply all our needs. ~~ Paige

  8. December 7, 2011 7:58 am

    Half way through the post I was thinking “If she doesn’t have a Christmas tree, I’m shipping her my spare one I bought at Target this year!” I am soooo thrilled that someone has made your Christmas super special!
    Thanks for reminding me that it isn’t about the gifts.
    Love your projects and sending loads of love to you!

  9. Jennifer permalink
    December 7, 2011 8:15 am

    It simply amazes me how blessed we all really are when sometimes our lives feel so disarrayed. I get really down at Christmas time every year because I want so much to give to everyone that I forget what was given to me, to all of us. Your story reminds me that there is hope for everyone. You truly are blessed and sounds like Creamie will have a Christmas to remember. Love the homemade gifts! Jennifer

  10. December 7, 2011 8:55 am

    What a great story. It’s so nice to know you have people in your life who are supporting you through the “hard stuff”! Be thankful.

  11. Margarita permalink
    December 7, 2011 8:57 am

    That is such a wonderful story. I teared up at my desk a little bit. It’s good to be reminded that people are fundamentally good.

  12. Linsey permalink
    December 7, 2011 9:12 am

    YAY!

  13. Liz Merrell permalink
    December 7, 2011 9:13 am

    Aahh . . . I needed a feel-good Christmas story this morning. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks.

  14. Linda Mae permalink
    December 7, 2011 9:49 am

    Ahhh, such a GREAT Christmas story!! I love it. I am glad things are working out. And, I hope they work out here too. But, as you said things do change all the time..and our health issues will go away…Love you….

  15. December 7, 2011 10:17 am

    Love you, love this, love Christmas, love gingerbread boys. :)

    xox

  16. December 7, 2011 10:32 am

    This is beautiful. You and your family are beautiful. And who ever gave you that tree–they are all kinds of beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Definitely boosted my Christmas spirit. :)

  17. Candi permalink
    December 7, 2011 10:55 am

    I don’t know you and I’ve never seen your blog before today, I just came here from a link on CraftGawker, I think. But this post makes me sad and happy and grateful. I’m so happy for you. I lov it when people step up and do something wonderful! <3

    You are obviously extremely talented–I've pinned several of your crafts. I hate it that someone do talented is struggling. Do you sell anything? Do you have an Etsy store or anything? Please let me know.

  18. Jenny Ann permalink
    December 7, 2011 11:25 am

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately… I can relate to having a lean Christmas, birthday, anniversary and Wednesday!! The good news is yes, there are very good people who listen to promptings and a loving Heavenly Father who knows and hears us. I’m sorry things have been rough, I didn’t realize. I love you tons!!!

  19. December 7, 2011 11:55 am

    Oh e, this is such a touching story. I think it is wonderful that you and Scott are truly partners, and great parents for Creamie (I love the idea of handmade gifts, regardless of financial situations!). Keep faith, keep working hard, and being good people, and goodness will return to you.

  20. Kim permalink
    December 7, 2011 11:58 am

    This is beautiful! Simply beautiful. Evidence that Heavenly Father is aware of us and answers our prayers through other people. Thank you for sharing and bringing tears to my eyes. There is good all around us!

  21. December 7, 2011 12:02 pm

    I am in tears. What a sweet thing for someone to do.
    I can so relate to your story. I don’t feel like we have money for a tree this year either, I think my husband is going to make one out of wood that we have, I have been wanting a wood one for years anyways :)
    I hope things start looking up for you guys, I know how hard it can be.
    Sending hugs!
    P.S. handmade Christmas is the best, we do that at our house too.

  22. Anna permalink
    December 7, 2011 1:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. So sad but also with a happy ending. But I think goodness will return.
    I found your blog a few months ago and I really enjoy to read it.
    Keep your trust and have a Merry Christmas

    Anna from Sweden/ Europe

  23. Amanda permalink
    December 7, 2011 2:03 pm

    “And my God shall supply all of your needs according to HIS glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” And in this case, not JUST your needs, but the desires of your heart as well! God bless you and your family this Christmas! -Amanda

  24. December 7, 2011 4:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing your heartwarming story. I am so happy for you and your family! May you have a blessed Christmas!

  25. December 7, 2011 5:30 pm

    This is the best Christmas story I’ve heard. Bless you all and I love your popcorn and gingerbread men. Bless the angel who got you a tree. Best gift ever! That little girl will love this story as she grows up. Merry Christmas.

  26. December 7, 2011 5:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing. There’s a Charles Dicken’s saying that goes something like “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year”. I’m glad that someone honored Christmas for you, and hope it finds you again and again in the months to come. Hugs to little Creamie.

  27. December 7, 2011 6:48 pm

    Oh Pink. I love you, and I love this story. Thank you for sharing with us. I hope things continue to just look up. Life, though crazy, is good, isn’t it.

  28. December 7, 2011 7:55 pm

    I just want to hug you. You deserve a tree in every room! You know, when you have the big, extravagant Christmas, you don’t feel better afterward. This is the way to do it, no matter how much or how little money there is. Everything you are doing– every gift, every homemade decoration, everything you are doing is making such a memory for Creamie. I am so thrilled, though, that you guys have a tree– and I’m so grateful that you guys have each other. Well, and I’m grateful to have you as my internet BFF.

  29. Laurel permalink
    December 8, 2011 8:44 am

    I knew something was up because you have been absent far too long.
    I am so grateful for “listening” angels. That they are in-tune with the powers that be. I love your beautiful Christmas tree. :)

  30. December 8, 2011 9:37 am

    This reminds me of “It’s a Wonderful Life” so much! Thank you for sharing your story – I can relate to it so well. Our Lord is so good and He hears our cries! God bless you and your family, and the person with the big heart, leaving you the Christmas tree!
    xoxo
    Joy

  31. December 8, 2011 10:00 am

    Merry Christmas E, Scott and Creamie. I know your days will be merry and bright. love, K.

  32. December 8, 2011 12:02 pm

    YAY!! so happy for you. this story brought tears to my eyes. it’s amazing what a little act of kindness can do. merry christmas!!

  33. December 8, 2011 5:51 pm

    I love this – totally LOVE it. So very glad Creamie (and you) got a tree.
    We have had God-sent trees twice and Christmas provided by our church family, and every time it has just meant so much.
    This year, there will be no tree (thanks to 6 cats and a Teacup Chihuahua), but twinkle lights hang around the ceiling in the living room. The rent is paid, there is food, we have internet, and gas in the cars – which run. Praise His Name – we don’t need more. (((((HUGS))))).

  34. Julia permalink
    December 8, 2011 9:08 pm

    Your story struck a major chord with me and reminds me of a story of my own. My parents had a few really bad years when I was growing up. One year my father’s paychecks were bouncing and we were teetering on bankruptcy. After years of piles of presents under the tree, that Christmas my brother and I each received an ornament from the dollar store and a mug full of candy. While I’m sure I adored the presents my parents lovingly gave us when we were most financially secure, that ornament is the gift I am most thankful for. It is a constant reminder to be grateful for what I have, to never take anything for granted and it is the first one on my tree every year.

    While this Christmas may not have all the trappings, the spirit of the season is obviously alive and well in your house.

    • December 9, 2011 12:20 pm

      This story gave me goosebumps all over. I love these kinds of memories, so amazing.

      xox

  35. December 8, 2011 9:23 pm

    Hey Pink friend,

    I’m sorry I’m late to the party. I have been thinking of you, though, which isn’t much considering. I’m so glad someone knew your need and met it. Like a lot! You are one of the most amazing people I know. So glad you got your tree.

    xo -E

  36. December 9, 2011 7:21 pm

    All I can say is Thank You – just the right words, at just the right time!

    You and your family have a WONDERFUL Christmas! <3

  37. December 9, 2011 8:59 pm

    teary here too!
    Such a beautiful post my friend.
    I’m so proud of your little family… you are a role model and I just wish we could live closer.

  38. Rachel permalink
    December 9, 2011 11:45 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing that! Many of us have been graced by the hands and hearts of others! I am so happy you shared this story! Love you tonz!

  39. December 11, 2011 7:57 am

    I am so glad your husband found a new and better job. God has a way of making these things work out, but sometimes his timing takes so long!!!! God bless whoever left your family that tree. Isn’t that really what the Christmas spirit is really all about? Sharing what we have and providing others with a little glimpse of how Jesus would do it? God bless you and Merry Christmas!!!!

  40. December 14, 2011 8:10 pm

    I’m so glad things are looking up for you and your family, and that Creamie has a Christmas tree, and a mother that will make her christmas magical :) I wish your family the best this season, and thank you for sharing your story, which brought tears to my eyes. You have such a beautiful spirit and are such an inspiration.

  41. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2011 9:54 pm

    What more can you say other than God is good and thankfully we have good people who listen to him. Great story, thanks for sharing.

  42. December 18, 2011 7:11 pm

    Love you. This is a great story!

  43. sheri permalink
    December 19, 2011 12:07 pm

    This is the second time this season I have heard the true meaning of xmas….but both times it made me cry in the middle of the office

    Thanks gotta go wipe my eyes!

  44. December 26, 2011 6:03 pm

    I’m sorry I’ve been out of the blog-reading loop for a while – life has just been too crazy. But I wanted to pop in and wish you a merry Christmas. Now I’m catching up. Thank you for sharing this story – you have an amazing ability to turn lemons into {pink} lemonade, and I know y’all will be just fine. In the meantime, I pray that miracles continue to carry you through the hard time. XO

  45. January 4, 2012 10:55 am

    I had no idea you had such challenges going on or that you were blessed this way until just now. WONDERFUL. Love to read any story about how people can be so fantastic and not the other way around. Such a great post. And I loved how you payed it forward with the angel doll. Who knows how many were blessed through these two posts.

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