Elder and Sister Tanner
When you are far from home, no matter what you do Christmas becomes "different" and we have found that it is okay. We have talked a lot and thought a lot about Christmas this year.
Mostly for me it has been recalling a lot of special memories. Christmas seems so magical when you are a child. It really doesn't have to do with how much is spent. It is the gifts that money can't buy that are the most important and the most memorable. One of Michael's memories that he has shared with me often is a wagon full of oranges. Oranges in the winter time in Idaho, what a wonderful gift for him. He has never forgotten it and it still becomes the topic of discussion a few times during the season. My memories put me into another world. Lights, cookies, candles, music, stockings, the tree, wrapping and ribbons, fudge, divinity, cards, relatives, the artificial fireplace, hard candies, a bowl of nuts, giggles, anticipation, secrets, food (oh my) the food. Did I know we were "poor"? Never at Christmas. To me Christmas was magic. When I grew up I found out that someone has to create that magic. My mother was at the center of all that magic for me. When I think back on all those wonderful memories, I don't know how she did it. I know my dad and grandpa helped and probably many others, but it was her that pulled it off every year. Then I realized that responsibility fell on me now. I picked up the torch and was determined that the magic of Christmas would not be lost with me. It was not always easy, but the magic continued. As we moved on through our lives and found the Church, the magic continued, but increased and become even more meaningful in the very special way of knowing what that magic is all about. The Jesus present become the central theme of our celebration. The Christmas story though mentioned and heard as a child, now become vital to our family. We carried on a lot of our traditional activities, tweaking some and adding some of our own. It was magical. Certain music and certain smells can transport me back in seconds.
I have often said that I wait each year for the Christmas Spirit to come. There is always something that triggers it. Some years it is early and others it is evasive and hard to find. This year it has come later, perhaps because we are away, or just that we have been so busy. The video that has been circulating on the internet about the flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus in a food court really helped. The most important thing that really brought the spirit to us was letters from family members. Home made cards, hand drawn pictures, testimonies, letters, special talks, little books. They touched our hearts and made the tears flow. They will be a treasure always, not just at Christmas.
To be serving this mission and associating with these missionaries at this time is surely a blessing we will always cherish. I think the Lord gives extra special blessings at this time of the year when it is difficult to be away from home and family. There is a warmth and peace that comes from within, to know we are in the Lord's service. When all is said and done, when all the gifts have been opened and we move into the New Year, we realize it is not magic, but the Spirit that makes it Christmas. That little baby who was born in the stable has grown up and now is our Savior. We are grateful for his loving sacrifice.
Love you Mom!!