Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The greatest Christmas gift...

FYI: I am going to start posting all the posts I put on my Moms ALS blog here too so when I make this year into a blog book I will have them included.

In order to understand how wonderful the gift our family was given this Christmas you would have to understand what happened on Thanksgiving....

After an amazing Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunts house my Mom had one of those moments where her grief overwhelmed and knocked her over. People always talk about the stages of grief. I agree with the emotions they have identified but I think the term "stages" can be misleading. Stages seem to imply progression, that you complete one stage and move onto the next stage. For us grief has not been like that. It hits us in waves. Most of the time we cant even see it coming and it knocks us over before we know its there. And it comes over and over again.

My Mom was hit with one of those waves after dinner because she had been forced to sit on the sideline of the dinner preparations all day long. Here is what she typed on her ipad that night:

I realized tonight that I cant do Christmas dinner. I always wanted a family holiday dinner like we had today but I am not able to enjoy it like I would have when I could be apart. These last two days I have lost my ability to talk and by Christmastime I wont be able to communicate or use my hands.

We knew we had to do something different for Christmas and our plan was to have it catered which would eliminate the need for us to be busy in the kitchen all day but still allow us to have our traditional meal. A few weeks before Christmas my Dad got a call from President Love, a member of the Stake Presidency in our Church. He asked my Dad if we would allow him to bring us Christmas dinner. My Dad does not break down very often but in his own words, that offer overwhelmed him.

Not only was the offer amazing and an answer to our prayers but he went about it with sensitivity and selflessness. He wanted to know what we eat each year and even offered to gather our traditional dishes ahead of time to serve it in. He wanted to give us our traditional Christmas dinner without the burden of the work.

Rumor has it that President Love is an extraordinary cook so we were looking forward to Christmas dinner with great anticipation! It was liberating to be free of the cares and obligations of dinner so we could focus on making my Moms day as comfortable and happy as possible. In fact our minds were so at ease that we failed in our only responsibility of picking up our pies from Marie Calendars! (No worries - we did get them thanks to Kelly)

As we were setting the table at 3:00 I realized that I had also forgotten to buy Sparkling cider. My Dad asked me if we had cider around 3:30 and I scoured the storage for any hidden bottles with no luck. My Uncle Rick had thankfully brought 2 bottles, but that wasn't going to go far with 20 people. I was really irritated with myself for not even thinking about it ahead of time! I wanted everything to be perfect and I was so frustrated with myself that I put myself into a really foul mood.

Santa came right on time in the form of President Love, with his Santa's hat and apron on accompanied by his sweet wife. As he brought the platter of turkey in the kids came running and shouting, "there are a hundred people coming to Grandma and Grandpas house!" As I walked out onto the porch there was a procession of loved Ward members from our Church, bearing dishes loaded with delicious smelling food and I heard the sweet melodies of Christmas carols.

I can not explain the love our family felt in those moments looking around at the familiar faces of those who have loved and supported our family over the last 23 years.

We saw people we had grown up with as children standing there with their children. There were faces I did not recognize that had come with those they were visiting to share in this sweet gift for our family. Everywhere I looked there was love reflected on tear stained faces.

My Dad stood holding my Mom against him for support as they listened to the carols. This was the ultimate gift of love. It was touching that our friends were willing to sacrifice their time on Christmas to serve our family.

I had one counter cleared and ready for food but when I came back into the kitchen that counter was overflowing, the island was filled and had overflowed onto another counter.

It was like Christmas morning all over again as we unwrapped the foil to find what dish was inside. It was a beautiful and delicious feast! For me the tears really came when I saw 6 bottles of cold sparkling cider! Everything was perfect, as I had longed for it to be.

As we celebrated the birth of our Savior this last Saturday we experienced first hand his message to his disciples in John 21 :
Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him,
Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Our family was fed not only physically,
but also spiritually and emotionally.
Christmas dinner has never tasted so good!

Our family will never forget your kindness and generosity.
We thank everyone who participated with all our hearts.
We love you so much.

And to dear President Love, thank you for being available to hear the quiet promptings of the Spirit for our family's need. We didn't even know how much we needed it.

You were our real life Santa Clause this year.

A disclaimer: If you were wondering why my Mom looked like she had Christmas tree ears on...that would be my fault. John and I thought they were so over the top and fun that we put them in her stocking and always a trooper and ready for a good time she wore them all day. I just realized that Lisa never put the light up Christmas earnings that she and Mark had put in my Moms stocking on- Darn it! That would have made it even better :)


The Hamlin Family said...

Oh I LOVE P2...we would have been there in a heartbeat to feel the love of our old ward. I'm so glad you had the PERFECT Christmas!!!

Susan said...

What a wonderful story---true story! Just like Christmas. Thanks for your description Lisa, including the part about the sparkling cider, and the pictures. I love the one looking through the crowd toward your mom and dad. That truly was a gift of love with the eternal perspective in mind. At this point in your mom's eternal life, to share the day with her family and her ward family, so many people who love her and share her journey.

Finley Family said...

You are truly an amazing woman! To capture this time and be so supportive to your kids! Tears fill my eyes every time I hear you talk about the love you share with your mom and family! Good oneS!