Up Planning 2011 Magi Gifts Cook’s Corner

Cathy Sifuentez
Christy Price Chambers


Central Sisters Write
Published monthly by the Women’s Ministry at Central Church of Christ, Amarillo, TX

Vol. 8 Issue 12

It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV



Unpacking the Spirit of Christmas

By Larisee Lynn Stevens

It was December 15th, and the ringing of the phone broke through the Christmas music on the stereo. Humming a carol, I answered it. It was my husband. “Honey, I have some good news and some bad news.” “Ok,” I said, “the good news first.” I set down the piece of a table top Christmas village I was holding. “Our name is at the top of the list for base housing, and a 3 bedroom is coming available.” “Yea! What’s the bad news?” “We have to move on Dec. 24th and the date is not negotiable. We take it or leave it. If we don’t take it, our name goes back to the bottom of the list.”

We had been living off base for the eight months we had been in England, and the expense was getting to us. The rent wasn’t so bad but the cost of gasoline for my husband to drive back and forth to work and our sons to participate in school sports was hard on our wallet. I knew we couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to get on base but my heart sank at the date and anger rose inside me. What difference would two days make to them? It would destroy our Christmas! Had they no heart? It was bad enough to be half way around the world from our families during the holidays, but now we would have no Christmas at all.

As I hung up, my mind began racing, trying to work out ways I could salvage Christmas for us. “Fortunately, most of my shopping is done,” I said to myself. (Our packages home were mailed in November.) I began my list of changes: “The tree taken down and the decorations repacked. Christmas dinner on paper plates, not on good china and linens. Christmas eve traditions around the tree, scrapped.” Gloom replaced my previous cheerfulness.

I began a major pity party accompanied by a big blue funk. The Christmas spirit and joy had been moved right out of me!

Tossing my “things to do before Christmas” list I exchanged it for a “things to do before moving” list. Each day that passed I became more bitter, griping, complaining and shedding angry tears. I just couldn’t understand how the military could be so heartless.

The packers arrived at 8 a.m. sharp on Christmas Eve and began to pack our belongings. Our teenage sons treated it as a great adventure and tried joking about it as they helped load our car with food, pajamas, and other things we would need that night and the next morning. “Hey, Mom, we are like Mary & Joseph, moving on the 24th!” “You always say you want a sparkling clean house for Christmas and this year every corner is clean!” Deep in my pity party, levity was the last thing I wanted so they soon gave up.

The commissary was to close early because it was Christmas Eve, so I sent my husband, shopping list and ice chest in hand, off to buy our holiday dinner – our frozen, canned, boxed, and pre-packaged Christmas dinner that we would eat off paper plates. I’m sure he felt blessed to get away from me as I snarled and snapped my way through the day.

The moving truck pulled out of the driveway of our “new” address close to 7 p.m. We unloaded the car and began to organize the house. Beds had to be put together and made, towels put out, suitcases unpacked. We all worked so hard I don’t think we even thought about it being Christmas Eve or our special traditions. We just wanted to get to bed! I had badly wanted to make our first Christmas overseas special. “This is really special,” I grumbled, “special because it isn’t happening.”

When I woke early Christmas morning, my first thoughts were of trying to empty enough boxes to find food, dishes and pans to make breakfast before the guys awoke. Everyone was so tired last night I felt sure they would sleep late enough for me to accomplish this task. Staggering sleepily down the hall I opened the living room door and stood openmouthed.

Sometime between going to bed at midnight and my rising at 6 a.m. our sons had slipped into the living room and stacked boxes into the shape of a Christmas tree. A string of lights they had hidden away were draped back and forth across the boxes and held in place with packing tape. “Balls” made from packing paper and tape also adorned the boxes, and the gifts I had left in the trunk of the car were stacked neatly around their box tree. Our Christmas stockings were taped from the top of the empty book cases. Theirs hung empty, but my husband’s and mine contained small gifts from the boys – our favorite white chocolate candy bars and some special mints we loved. The Bible, lying on a chair was open to the Christmas story.

Glamorous it was not, but it was beautiful. And humbling. In that magnificent gesture they cast away my gloomies, showed how much they loved us, and brought us back to reality as to the real joy and meaning of Christmas. Christ was born in a stable, yet the world rejoiced. Christmas isn’t decorations and lights, fancy food or traditions. Christmas is all about God’s love. Packing tape and boxes can express it just as beautifully as tinsel and lights.

It was the best Christmas ever!

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