This story was emailed me today. My comments are in red.
Christmas time always seems to have its share of hustle and bustle. Between the shopping got that done early via internet, kept it simple, parties yeah, enough of those, extra cooking, not really, as I basically cook everything from scratch anyways cleaning and decorating I gave up on this category the year my children stomped all the Christmas ornaments in November, there doesn't seem to be enough time for the really important things that should accompany the holidays uh make time for it. Last year was especially hectic. I was working part_time in addition to being a mommy of five children sounds normal. I was serving in the Young Women's Presidency and had a lot of responsibilities there. My husband had gone back to school to further his degree yup we are there too, so money was really tight when isn't it?. Our five children were in need of a lot of things that year, but of course, their "wish lists" weren’t full of necessities. They were full of wants nobody wants mittens or a sweater unless they have gone without. I was really struggling with how I was going to make THIS Christmas "as good" as previous years obviously she has never had an autistic child to completely ruins her holidays. We focus on surviving the changes in schedules. In other words, how was I going to fulfill all of their don't even try, bake homemade gifts for all the neighbors and fami1y this year I am passing out unbaked mixes, and make sure my home looked like it was taken out of Martha Stewart's magazine? hum, let's revisited stomped ornaments and broken Christmas trees and ripped up presents, pretty is just not a priority around here. I just wasn't sure if I could do it all this year. I'm not sure if I can do it all with out most of the things on your list. In other words I would feel a complete disconnect with you right now and stop reading, but I'm having to much fun being snarky because I am ornery at the stubbornness of the men and young men in my life right now so I will continue to add my comments to what is set up to otherwise be a touching story.
I said as much to my visiting Teachers when they came for their visit early in December. I had almost canceled our appointment that morning, thinking that it was just "one more thing" to fit into my busy day. It was a relief, however, to be able to share my frustrations with them, to know that I wasn't alone. We visited, and they shared a wonderful message about the Savior. It was the little boost I needed for the day. I needed something more to sustain me through the rest of the holidays, however. As these dear, faithful friends were leaving, Carolyn gave me a small gift. She told me that I couldn't open it until Christmas day, so I put it under the tree. It looked a little bit lonely there, as I hadn't had time to wrap any other gifts yet. Wow it stayed there and wasn't destroyed instantly?
Sundays and church were always uplifting, that's because you are not stuck in nursery alone repeating the same lesson for the third time but through the week those feelings of peace would quickly dissipate as the stress of the season came back. On the thirteenth day of December, however, we received a surprise. After dinner, there was a little knock on the door. When my daughter, Stephanie, went to answer the door, there was no one there. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. This time my son James opened the door. His eyes must have been a little sharper, though, because he found the little gift wrapped in white tissue paper lying on the doorstep. Taped to the simple package was a note that read, "To the Dawsons on the First Day of Christmas." My children were delighted. We had done the 12 days of Christmas for other families before, but we had never been the recipient of the fun. James quickly opened the package and out tumbled a little sheep. It was only a few inches high, but we gave it an important place on our mantle. baaa
The next night, a little shepherd boy appeared wrapped up on our doorstep, followed by the the following three nights. We quickly understood that this was a Nativity set that we were being given. Every night, my family would gather around to see which of the Nativity figurines we would receive and add to our mantle. James and his two younger brothers would stand guard at the window every evening trying to "catch" the culprits, but they never did. The days ticked down to and we had received every figure for our Nativity set except for the little baby Jesus. As we shared our evening together, reading the story of the Savior’s birth from the scriptures and singing hymns I wish my kids would sing, they would rather hide under the kitchen table and , the anticipation of the imminent arrival of the baby Jesus grew. We couldn't wait for him to come.
Somehow, that small reminder we had received every day on our doorstep helped to turn our hearts around to the real meaning of Christmas. I had noticed the children had been kinder to each other and had been more willing to help out without so much grumbling and complaining. And now, there was no talk of what Santa was going to bring we gave up on santa years ago. The talk was "Where was Jesus?" James checked the doorstep every few minutes, but nothing. It was getting late, almost time for bed, and Jesus still wasn't there. Finally, bedtime could wait no longer, and my husband and I tried to explain to the children that perhaps the family who had been delivering the gifts had gone out of town for Christmas or was busy with their own family. That didn't seem to pacify the children. As I tucked my 3 year old daughter into bed, with tears in her eyes she said, "We can't have Christmas without Jesus." I had to fight back my own tears as I kissed her goodnight and wished her a Merry Christmas.
The next morning was chaos, of course, with everyone opening their gifts and showing what they had received. As the gift giving died down, I went into the kitchen to start on breakfast. Stephanie called me back in with "Mom, there's another gift for you." I went back to the tree and found the little gift from my visiting teacher. I had completely forgotten about it as it had been pushed to the very back of the tree as more and more presents were added. I opened the gift and just stared. There, wrapped in a little note, was the little figure of baby Jesus. The note said, "I was here all the time."
No other gift I received that year meant more to me than the anticipation my family and I felt every evening as we waited for Jesus to arrive, and then the peace we received realizing that He was always there with or without all the other Christmas chaos.