I am so humbled by the outpouring of support that Jonathan and I have received in response (I'm assuming) to my previous post. We received so many kind comments and words of encouragement on the blog, in emails, facebook messages, by phone, and in person.
The morning after I posted the depressing vent list, I received two gift cards in my email inbox. One from an aunt and another from a cousin. They said they were late wedding gifts, but they could not have come at a better time.
Later that night, a friend called to tell me that her family had an extra coat that might fit Jonathan. She brought it over the next morning along with a cute dress for me.
As I went to work that morning, Christmas Eve Eve, I finally started to feel that familiar twinge of Christmas happiness that I'd been trying to figure out how to find.
Upon returning home from work late that afternoon, I stopped in the kitchen to put some leftovers in the fridge and chat with Laura before heading downstairs to our apartment. As I stepped down the first few stairs, I saw slivers of wood, strips of bark, and ripped up paper all over the floor at the bottom of the stairs. 'Cia'd had a good time chewing on stuff last night and I hadn't cleaned it up yet. Then as I took a couple more steps down, I saw a bunch of presents under our little tree.
At first I was confused... I thought Jonathan and I decided not to get each other anything much this year, let alone 9 gifts. I knelt down next to the tree. Each gift had a tag that read either "To: J" or "To: A." Nothing was written to tell us who they were from.
It hit me. We'd been Secret Santa'd. I ran back upstairs to question Laura. She followed me back downstairs to see, saying she knew nothing about it. I called my mom. She swore it wasn't her.
I just have to say that it's amazing what a few unopened gifts under our tree did to lift my spirits on Christmas Eve. I don't think it was the fun of getting stuff that did it, as much as the realization that someone cares about Jonathan and me enough to do something that kind and generous. We decided to leave the gifts for Christmas morning. As I went about my Christmas Eve activities I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful people are.
After the festivities of Christmas Eve with each of our families, Jonathan and I went home to enjoy each other. We put on some Christmas music classics and lit some candles. I gave 'Cia a bath and picked up the apartment while Jonathan worked on his painting for Josh. At about 11:30, Jonathan had to run over to my parents' house for something he needed for Josh's present. He went upstairs to leave and then came back down carrying a box he'd found on the front doorstep. The tag said "Merry Christmas, Amanda and Jonathan." We opened it to find lots of food, baked goods, and candy.
The next morning we opened our presents from Secret Santa. We got some very nice and much needed new clothes, a cash gift card, a restaurant gift card, and some muffin mix.
Then I noticed an envelope on the tree that I'd missed before. I have no idea when it showed up there. It was an anonymous card with a generous amount of cash inside.
Another gift on the tree was from another friend: a grocery gift card.
We went to my parents' and were received with more nice gifts. Then on to my grandparents where we received a game and another generous late wedding gift that again, could not have come at a better time.
Christmas evening, at the Graceys', I finally succumbed to my first game of Settlers of Catan (thanks Sica) and actually really enjoyed it (and won) despite it's length. Two friends stopped by to visit with their cute kids and dropped off another generous gift card.
We feel so loved.
To all who have given to us, thank you, thank you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your thoughtfulness and generosity means more than I could ever express. Christmas quickly turned around for me from being a painful reminder of how little we have to a beautiful reminder of how much we really do have in people who love us.
To those who gave us the food, clothes, gift cards, and cash anonymously, I wish I knew who you were so I could thank you personally. Please know that as soon as we have the means, your wonderful good deed to us will be paid forward to another. Thanks for the excitement, anticipation, and true spirit of Christ that you have given us.
We love you all. Merry Christmas.