Friday, December 5, 2008

The Blue Sweater

Christmas! The season is here. I have so many reasons to love this holiday, but the most prominent are the memories of the years that we had the least - monetarily, anyway.

Our first few years in California were tough. After my Dad lost his job in Iowa we moved to California to live with my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Dick. They were generous enough to not only offer my father employment but to also welcome us into their home. We lived with them for quite a while until Mom and Dad felt like we could try to make a go of things on our own and we moved into a nearby apartment. Mom and Dad told us that there would not be much for Christmas that year, but we would all be receiving a little something.

I remember well a trip to the mall a few days before Christmas to see the holiday displays and do some window shopping, something we did often. As I passed one particular window I caught sight of a beautiful blue sweater. Oh, how I wanted that sweater! I was at one of the most awkward social stages of my life. I had difficulty making friends and I was sure this sweater could help me in that department. With this sweater? Instant popularity! Friends galore! I slipped into the store, waving my family ahead.

I found my size and held it in front of me. It was so soft and warm. I looked into a mirror and could see how its blue color brought out the color of my eyes. I didn't dare try it on for fear that it would be a perfect fit, cementing the thought in my mind that we were made for each other, this sweater and I. I looked at the price tag... there was no way. I couldn't even ask.

I folded the sweater up and placed it back with the others in shades of red, purple and green. After one last, longing look, I hurried to catch up with my family.

Over the next couple of days we enjoyed some simple holiday traditions together - making cookies and decorating the tree. On Christmas Eve we delivered cookies to a few of our neighbors and friends then came back home to enjoy some Christmas treats. As we watched some holiday programs on the T.V. a loud knock sounded at our door. We ran to find who was coming to visit on Christmas Eve, throwing the door open eagerly. There was no one there. We were excited when we looked down and noticed a large box, filled with canned food, a ham and a gift for each of us! Christmas morning could not come quickly enough.

After a long, restless night, Christmas morning dawned. We gathered around the tree, eagerly anticipating the opening of gifts. There were a few things for each of us and we (im)patiently sat as each person took turns opening their presents one at a time, the way Mom liked to have us do it. Why we weren't allowed to just tear into the paper like wild banshees and get to what was inside was beyond me, but Mom made the rules.

I don't recall what my other gifts were but when it finally came my turn to open the mysterious gift left anonymously, I said a little prayer in my mind... "Please, Heavenly Father, let it be the blue sweater..." then I stopped. I felt a bit embarrassed. Who was I to ask God for a silly sweater? And why get my hopes up? The chances were slim to none. I slowly opened the gift and could not believe my eyes.

There it was. My sweater. The right size, the right color. We were made for each other.

Some may chalk it up to coincidence, but I choose to believe that God knows us personally and He knows what our needs are. And I think He works through others to bless us in simple ways when He knows we need it most.

This may sound over dramatic to you, but to a young pre-teen girl in need of a boost in the self-esteem department?

It was my own Christmas miracle.


cari said...

What a great story! I couldn't agree with you more that Heavenly Father knows us personally. I've seen that witnessed in my life many times.

Gina said...

I love that story. Yet again, a story that MUST be published. Perhaps you should contact the Ensigh, Friend, or New Era. Love it!

Trish said...

Amen, my friend, amen!

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Holmes said...

Ok, I totally got chills...and was reminded of my second Christmas as a missionary that I spent with your wonderful family. The movie "E.T." came out that year (I just dated myself!) and although I hadn't seen the movie (of course not--I was a missionary!), it was all the rage. Your parents gave my companion and I each a card that said, "E.T., phone home." Of course we had heard the line--it was one used quite frequently at that time. And it meant that as your family's Christmas gift to us we could each call our family, and your parents would pick up the tab. I think of that Christmas often. Sweet memories. Thanks for sharing another one.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing.

Teachinfourth said...

Your posts always make me smile...You did it again.

Rebecca said...

Gerb, you may have just cured me of my irritation with blue Christmas decorations. I can turn it around now by thinking of this story when I see blue Christmas lights, and smile when they make me think of you and your Christmas miracle...instead of that dumb Elvis.

Cami said...

I totally got chills reading this post too. Thank you for sharing. You are a great storyteller.

I miss you! We need to get together soon!

Gloria said...

What a sweet story revealing the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father. It is proof positive that He lives, He knows each one of us individually, and blesses us according to our individual needs.

Thanks for sharing.

Martha said...

I can't keep on reading your posts and not say something...I came across your blog via tipjunkie, and I LOVE it! The first one I read was just after General Conference when you shared the letter your son wrote to the Mo-Tabs. I was immediately hooked. Your posts make me wish we lived in the same ward (or town, or state!I'm in Ohio.), just so I could hang out with you. You never come across as too perfect, or give too much information, but your testimony and your fun personality shine through! Very uplifting. Keep it up, and I hope you don't mind my "blogstalking". :)

Cami said...

P.S. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. "God knows us and he knows our needs, but it is usually through another person that He meets those needs."

Anonymous said...

My thought as I read this was how neat if only we could all be the person that the Lord worked through. It made me want to give a little more prayer into the angel tree gifts we give each year. Thanks for this reminder to involve him in this.

Gerb said...

Sometimes a little reminder is just what is needed. At the time, that was the case for me.

You flatter me. I like that.

Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!

We're all friends here. You don't have to delete your comments.

I totally remember that Christmas. I have lots of fond memories of crazy Sisters Curby and Holmes!

Thanks for reading!

I'll keep writing if you keep smiling. Deal?

My personal favorite is tinfoil trees with blue decorations.

Thanks. And I agree.

Very well put. Sometimes it takes some reflection to recognize the blessings, but it seems like they are always there if we are willing to find them.

Thanks, and you are welcome to blogstalk (and leave comments) all you like! It's fun to see who's reading my ramblings.

I try my best to be that kind of person. I think the world is a better place when we're all aware of each other's needs and help when we can.