For the past nearly three years I have worked in home health taking care of a woman we'll call "Brenda". She was in an accident her sophomore year in college and has been completely paralyzed and brain damaged since. That was in the 60's. The cool thing is she has never for one minute been discouraged or bitter since that day, just happy and loving life. She lives with her sister (who is the definition of saint) and I go to their home in the mornings to do standard nursing care like medication administration, range of motion exercises, bed baths, etc. Let's be honest, its not my dream job. But I've been there so long, now its more like taking care of a second Grandma than anything else.
Plus Brenda is hilarious. She does something called brain tracking which means she gets stuck on one subject and continues to talk about the same thing all day. She has about ten of them and over the course of three years we have completely exhausted every angle of her high school study abroad in Mexico, my height in comparison to her height, and respelled every word from her spelling bee victory. But then, every once in a while, she'll surprise me with something totally random. The day I came back to work after my honeymoon, we reviewed my name, how to spell it, and my height, as usual. But then she looked me right in the eye ans said "Did you have sexual intercourse?" Uhhh.... What? Can you ask someone that? I immediately laughed out loud. How in the world was I going to respond! She started cracking up and repeating the question, I was so horrified her sister was going to come in the room and hear the whole thing! Let me tell you, that was a fun day. Luckily she didn't end up adding that question to the tracking list. Can you imagine discussing that with my patient on a daily basis?? Yikes!
Something I love about my job though is that Brenda loves to be read to. The Ensign, my anatomy lectures, a nutrition label, you name it. So this month we read a book that has completely changed my plans for our future Fox family traditions. It's called A Christ Centered Christmas: Seven Traditions to Lead Us Closer to the Savior by Emily Freeman. Emily was driving with her young daughter one December listening to Christmas music and her daughter said to her, "Mom, I believe in Santa Claus, and you believe in Jesus Christ." Oops, not exactly what they were going for. So that inspired this book which goes through the course of their lives as they changed their Christmas traditions to focus on Christ instead of Santa. They ended up with seven Christmas traditions each representing one member of the nativity. For example, for the angel they go caroling every year to proclaim the good tidings, for Mary they make heart shaped sugar cookies and set aside time to ponder the birth of Christ (Luke 2:19), you get the picture. Y'all it's so good. I have been raving about it since the minute I finished. It's not even 100 pages. Seriously, read it. So, I have been taking some ideas from her book for our own traditions.We don't really have that many seeing as this is only our second Christmas together, but we did do something last year that we decided to repeat because it was so much fun: Stocking Stuffing.
We head to Walmart together for stocking stuffers. We each build a box from the office supply isle and split up to opposite sides of the store. You have about an hour to fill the box full of stocking stuffers and then meet back up to check out. Cheap thrill I know, but there's some kind of excitement to the fact that you might run in to each other at any minute and you have to get pretty creative. Walmart only offers so much! Not related to Christ at all.... but I'm getting there.
So what I want to add to it for next year comes from my favorite tradition she talks about in the book, the one for the Wise Men. This tradition might be too ambitious. It might be extremely difficult. But I'm bound and determined to try it. This Mom was fed up with all the greediness that can come from gift giving Christmas morning, and decided to simplify it. Just as Christ received three gifts from the Magi, each of her children only receive three gifts on Christmas morning. Three gifts! She researched each of the gifts Christ was given: Gold- celebrating Christ's royalty, Myrrh- a common incense for cleaning and burial (foreshadowing of his death), and Frankincense- an incense used in the temple symbolizing his divinity. She gives her children three gifts in connection with these meanings: one that is joyful, one that is needful, and one that is spiritual. And they still do a gift from Santa too. But before they open gifts, they have the children read about the meaning of each gift and why it was given to Christ. I think its the perfect way to bring the true meaning of Christmas into the most distracting part of the day. How perfect! What do you think? Would you do it? I love it. So Evan and I will keep the stocking stuffer race alive but next year we'll be thinking a little differently about what we put in there and under the tree.
Merry Christmas!! Keep this in mind: