Have you seen any of my posts today on the FaceBook?
If yes, then you know I won something HUGE!
If not, then why are we not ‘friends’ yet???
This week I entered, oh I dunno, about 10 contests. For prizes, stuff, money. I entered along with thousands, and I mean that literally, of other peeps. Some contests were big, others were small, but if you added all the entries up you would reach those high numbers. Therefore, I figured the winner would not be me. I entered anyway, just for fun.
And you know what? It IS fun!
But before I get into the fun, here is a back story that is a key point.
Every Christmas our family has things we do, places we visit and yummi-ness-es to bake. Like everyone else, we call these things our traditions. Not a big shocker I know, and maybe not stellar to others, but they are to us. We love our holiday Christmas Time!
One of our traditions we began, I don’t remember when, but our son was old enough to ‘get it’ and we were living in plenty. We had lots of time, and how do I say this without sounding snobby…and, and money. We weren’t rich, but we were comfy. All our ‘must purchase this for so and so’ was finished, and we were still at the mall. Shopping, looking, eating, laughing. Then we walked by the Giving Tree and stopped.
Something inside me bloomed.
There were so many tags on the tree. It was a large tree, one we really never had Looked at before. Sure we’d seen it, walked by it. Watched other people place bags of toys, clothes and goodies under it. But we had never stopped and LOOKED at it. This day we did. And I believe I cried. There were so many tags. So many. I began to read them.
Boys, girls, babies, all ages of children were covering that tree. Each tag was for one child. Just one boy or girl, you could choose any age.
I looked at my husband, I looked at my children, I looked back at the tags. I looked at our packages upon on the stroller. I looked back at the tree and I remembered what it’s all about. What it’s all really about.
Giving in the spirit of love, joy and happiness.
We’d done that for our families. We’d never done that for another unknown family.
We began a new tradition and chose one boy, the same age as our son and one girl the same age as our daughter. Then we began our shopping anew. We bought as much as we could off each tag and returned the bags to the tree. We prayed over the purchases and asked God to love on the families, bless them and keep them warm and safe that winter. We asked Him to hold them close in His arms and let them know they are loved beyond measure and the hard times will pass. We asked that when the children opened their presents on Christmas morning that they would be filled with joy beyond what the toys could give.
I’m sure I cried again.
This became our families favorite thing to do during Christmas time. We anticipated chosing the tags, shopped with joy and energy for the gifts on their lists and returned them with joy, love and happiness for the families as well as our own.
Then the economy did what it did and we couldn’t buy the ‘big ticket’ items. We couldn’t get as much on their list as we hoped. We did what we could and then a little more.
Last year, things were really tight. We only chose one child and my heart broke. My son’s heart cracked. My daughter’s heart saddened. My husbands heart held strong to the joy of what we could do and he carried us through. Even a little is better than none at all.
This year, it was just not possible to pick a child. This year our budget is not only tight, it’s close to strangulation. My husband and I made the decision to not chose a child off the Giving Tree at all this year. This year, the little we could do would be so very little. We were going to donate to a food bank instead, a little can go a long way there. But there would be no Giving Tree this Christmas.
My heart not only broke, it shattered. I had to put it out of my mind so the sadness did not take over. I avoided the mall so I would not see the tree at all. Not notice the tags that hang there.
Of course we did go to the mall, and the Tree was there. My daughter saw it and I had to quickly walk us by so I didn’t crumble into sobbing fits in the middle of the mall. We had to finally let them know that this year, we’d have to switch our tradition up just a smidge…that is until today…
Today my email had a message on the home page written in ALL CAPS. From Blogger Extraordinaire Jenny On the Spoth and that tag line on the email said these words:
“I’m not kidding… YOU WON THE AMERICAN EXPRESS CONTEST!”
I didn’t even open it. I just sat there and stared.
Then I cried.
I already knew the amount I’d won.
I already knew exactly where it would be spent.
The excitement bubbled up inside of me and burst out! I had to wake my husband, (it was early, I’m not a great sleeper)! I was joy-filled! I was blessed!
I can not thank American Express or Jenny enough for this gift. I know it was a contest, I know it’s a winning, but to me it’s a gift. Today I was given back our family tradition and I can’t wait to head in to the and walk right up to the Giving Tree and pick not just one child, but two. One boy and one girl.
Then we are going to head off and buy as much as we can off their lists! Every penny, (and a little more), of the $250 will be used to buy gifts off a wish list! We’re going to pray over those things and those children and we are going to squeeze in as much love as we can!
Thank you so much American Express!
Thank you so much Jenny on the Spot!
You have returned to us the gift of giving!