For some of November and all of December we were all busy helping Branson with his Eagle project. He decided to help a church congregation out in Mesa meet the Christmas needs of some of their families. These families live in Section 8 housing and it was so wonderful to watch Branson organize gifts, clothing and gift cards for 4 whole families.
One of the mothers is undergoing chemo therapy and Branson's heart seemed to be especially drawn to her and her three boys. He wanted everything to be just perfect for them. With the help of so many amazing friends we were able to fill our front room with tons of gifts and seeing that pile grow and watching Branson keep it all organized was as good as it gets.
We delivered the gifts on the 23rd and we drove home quiet, peaceful and full of thanks for our beautiful life and for the chance to help others.
My other most favorite moments were during the Heywood family Christmas Eve program. When Scott and I were first married I was told that Christmas Eve was a big deal for his family and I quickly fell in love with the traditions and spirit that we enjoy on that special night each year. There are a few key points.
One: Dinner...of course.
Two: The program and nativity. The kids get to play their instruments and we sing Christmas hymns while the little ones (and big ones) dress up for the nativity.
I loved this years donkey like no one has ever loved a donkey before...
Three: The bells!
After the music, nativity and scriptures we play the bells. Scott's Grandma started this decades ago with her children and now we carry it on and I look forward to it every-single-year. Everyone gets a bell, and we have charts with songs and their corresponding notes and we clink those bells with all our hearts.
Four: The 12 Days of Christmas. This tradition centers around Scott's Aunt Maureen. Oh how we love our Aunt Maureen! Maureen plays and we sing and she tries to play faster than we can sing and it is the most fun ever. For some reason I had such a feeling of joy come over me this year while singing The 12 Days of Christmas. I love my Heywood family. I love these traditions and I am so thankful that my kids get to be a part of it. The song is loud and crazy but MAN was the spirit in the room ever so strong. Heaven was not far.
Five: Christmas T-shirts and PJ's. Every year we all get a matching T-shirt drawn by my talented brother-in-law Brian. The kids get so excited to see what creative thing he comes up with every year.
After that we hug and snap pictures and head home for the night. Easily the best part of Christmas for me is Christmas Eve with my Heywood family. Oh how I love them and feel so thankful for Scott's Grandparents who began these beautiful traditions and for his parents who continue them. They inspire me to be better. I always want Grandma Mag to look down and be proud of us and I know she is with us when we clink those bells and pull on our new jammies.
Christmas Day is such a giant mess but I love just being with my little family and soaking in the joy of our Savior and all He does for us. I always give a scripture devotional before we open a single gift and we share our testimonies and pray together. And of course its always so fun to watch kids open gifts.
And doesn't it just always feel so right to end the Christmas season with the New Year? Jesus Christ IS renewal and so it is wonderful to clean up the mess and begin anew. We loved hosting the twins friends and some extra cousins. Now we are back to school and real life and you know what? I like real life too so its all good!