As many of you know, we've been having a rough time lately in regards to work situations and finances. I had spent Black Friday happily shopping, purchasing a few gifts with the assumption that Greg was receiving a new job (the recruiter had told us the company was planning to offer him a position) only to find out after weeks of waiting and checking in, that the offer never came. We were also met this month with our medical bills from Brody's birth. We had saved up the money for these expenses earlier on, but with Greg's lay off, having to replace my car, and me being out of work after the baby, the money was long gone. We soon realized we didn't have enough money to cover our living expenses, let alone buy gifts for Christmas. We were in survival mode, living on faith. Little did I know that such a circumstance would lead to the most spiritual and uplifting Christmas I have ever had.
I willingly admit that I am a proud person. I do not like to admit weakness, I have an incredibly hard time accepting help and will do just about anything to avoid asking for help. My will was broken over and over again this season as I had to relinquish my pride. For the first time in my life I truly understood what it felt like to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We knew we did not have enough coming in to provide, but somehow whenever the bills came due, family members, friends and ward members generously gifted the money we needed to get by.
A couple weeks before Christmas after our mortgage and utilities had been miraculously paid, we received a generous gift of cash from a Secret Santa and I was very excited to think we could use it to pay for the presents I had purchased. Two days later Greg's car died and needed a new battery and we had a home repair come up. The cost of both of these items was exactly the amount we had been given. Don't get me wrong, I was extremely thankful that we had the money to cover the unexpected cost, and I knew that Christmas should not about the gifts, but I could not help but be saddened and even a little bitter at not having money for Christmas yet again.
A few days later we went to Temple Square with Greg's side of the family to view the lights. As I listened to the nativity story and President Monson's message I was overwhelmed with gratitude for our Savior and for this wonderful time of year that we have to celebrate his birth and his life. I was humbled once again as I let the true reason for the season into my heart and let go of all the materialism to which I had so desperately been clinging.
I finally had the strength and resolution to return the Christmas gifts I had purchased, and amazingly enough, it didn't bother me in the least. Instead of dwelling on what we were missing, I enjoyed time with my family and friends, I prayed intently, and I pondered the fantastical gift our Heavenly Father provided for us all, the life of his most chosen son, The Redeemer sent to earth to save us all. With this new appreciation Christmas was better than ever before!
And then to top it all off, we were blessed even further. On Christmas Eve we received three more visits from Secret Santas. Each gift brought tears to our eyes and love in our hearts. Amazingly enough, a few of the gifts given to us were the exact ones I had returned. Surely, we are being watched over. We know there are many who are more deserving than we, who have greater needs during this time of year. How humbled we have been by these trials as of late. How thankful I am that these trials bring us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. How deeply touched we are by those who are mindful of our situation, who love us and who gave so generously, and for a Heavenly Father who works through his angels here on earth. He knows us, knows our needs, and despite our weaknesses and our greed, provides not only for those needs but also for some of our wants. And finally how rejoiceful I am that thousands of years ago, Jesus Christ was born, and that today we have the opportunity to celebrate his birth with those we love.
A very merry Christmas to all!