Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Gift From Christmas Past

Man oh man, did we get a slew of gifts this year. I got a stylin' new camera bag. Jared got a GPS running watch. Meatball got a Power Wheels Jeep, workbench, Rockin' Elmo, dump truck, tow truck, legos, lap top, golf clubs, train track, puzzles, books, movies...oh geez, I'm going to stop there. I'll be here all night if I name off everything the little stinker got. He's slightly spoiled.

But there's one gift in particular this Christmas that tugged at my heartstrings. One that took me by surprise. One that deserves a post all its own.

You may remember this post, where I wrote very briefly about my childhood home burning down my freshman year of high school. 

Memories from that cold November night are still so very crystal clear & vivid to me & are probably ones that won't ever fade with time. I will never forget standing on that black top country road in front of my home while flashing lights of red & white lit up the smoke-filled sky. The desperation in my father's eyes, the helplessness that was smeared across his face as he realized just how small he was against the monster that roared inside the walls of what used to be our residence will forever be etched in my mind. The hot tears I watched stream down my brother's face as he screamed & begged for the firefighters to save his pet fish will resound in my ears for as long as I live. The comfort my mom tried to bring to us as she stood, fighting back her own tears will never be forgotten. When I go back to that tragic night, I can still feel the pit in my stomach, the numb that swept over me, the complete shock I felt as we stood & watched a whole lifetime of memories go up into raging flames. We lost everything we ever owned in that fire. The belongings of ours that didn't crumble into ashes were so severely smoke damaged that they couldn't be recovered & we walked away with nothing but the clothes on our backs--literally.  

Of course to this day we are so very thankful that we walked away with that which is most important--each other. We rebuilt our home & we bought new things to fill it up with. It's funny, you realize just how little you truly need when you are stripped of everything. You realize that things aren't the substance of this life here on earth. Our lives eventually fell back into place & looking back, it was just another event in our paths that helped to build us & grow us stronger. 

But sometimes? Sometimes I can't help but wish I had back some of those belongings from that childhood home. Once in awhile I wish I could hold in my hands some of the things I once held so dear--like the porcelain doll my Aunt Suzie finally gave to me after the many years of me begging to be able to take home & make my very own. Or the little, metal, antique doll house I spent hours on end with, sitting in my bedroom tinkering little dolls from room to room. Or my Little House On The Prairie book collection, the one that came packaged in a little blue boxed set that I read over & over again until the pages had grown worn & tatty. Yes, sometimes I wish I had something to pass down to my own children. A piece of my past.  Something I could hold in my hands & say, "When I was your age...this was so very special to me."

Well, this Christmas, that little wish of mine came true. 

Remember that Nativity Scene I spoke of in that same post about my home burning down? The Nativity Scene that was made from beautiful porcelain & was painted in muted hues of cream & gold by my very own Aunt Elaine? The one my mom would set out on display come Christmastime & I would be found kneeling in front of it for hours, playing out the majestic Christmas story with the tiny figurines?  

Well, on Christmas morning I received my very own Nativity Scene--one identical to the one that burned up in that house fire so many years ago.

It turns out, one of my faithful blog followers {aka-- my mom} read that post, shed a few tears, then quickly got Aunt Elaine on the phone. Between the two of them, they located the exact set, met every Monday & Wednesday evening to paint each delicate piece, & worked as hard as they could to finish the entire manger scene by their deadline--Christmas morning. 

This Nativity Scene has been prayed over, has been engraved with scripture, & was handcrafted with solely me in mind. This Nativity Scene isn't just another Christmas decoration that I will set out every year once the holidays roll around. It is so much more than that. It is a little piece of two people I love. It is a keepsake that I will tell my children about one day. And it is one of the very few memories from my childhood that I can actually hold in my very hands. 

It is a gift from so many of my Christmases past.  

See? I told you it was the best.Christmas.ever.

Mom & Aunt Elaine--Thank you so much for helping to make this Christmas one I will never forget. Thank you for the time, the effort, & the love you poured into this Nativity Scene. It will be displayed in my home every single year & I will treasure it forever & ever. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you both.


  1. Elaine is coming over Friday night, I'll be sure to let her read this :)


  2. Holly, That brings tears of sadness & joy to my eyes at the sametime. It is Beautiful..

  3. What a special, thoughtful, beautiful gift. Thank you for sharing.