I am a member of an international organization that allows women from all religious faiths to get together in small groups and study different books in the bible. At one of our meetings back in September I met an amazing 46-year-old woman named Victoria who had quite the story.
Victoria had just been given custody of her "grandchildren" as she called them and she was required to move out of her apartment and into a home to accommodate the children. One night at class she mentioned that she had prayed that she might get her hands on some home appliances that were needed in the home and because she did not have the funds to buy them herself, she had asked God for guidance in obtaining them.
Victoria has never had any children so when her best friend died a few years ago, she took her friend's daughter under her wing and treated her as if she was her own.
This adopted daughter had two little girls of her own, 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age. Unfortunately, the adopted daughter had been arrested for child abuse and was sent to prison for 3 years, so that is why Victoria was given custody of the “grandchildren”.
Someone from church gave Victoria a home to rent but she had to supply the appliances and take care of the utilities. My husband Erich and I have owned a residential remodeling company for over 19 years so when I heard that she needed appliances I thought that I should help her out. I knew that my mother had a used, working stove in her garage so after our study I found my mom who also attends our study group and asked her if I could have the stove to donate to Victoria. I also said that I would try to find the other appliances through my vendors. Mom said she would help me out and suggested that we see what else we could do for her. We were able to find a refrigerator, stove, dryer and microwave then delivered and installed them over the Thanksgiving holiday. I didn't question why the home was as cold as it was when we were there because we just figuring that it was because we had all the doors open as we moved the appliances in. We came to find out a few weeks later that the utility company wouldn't turn the heat on until she paid a back payment and a deposit, which totaled $350. She did not have the extra funds to pay the bill so they could not move in until that was taken care of.
On December 23rd I got a call from Victoria asking me how I was recovering from a recent shoulder surgery and during the call I asked if she was going to Christmas Eve service at her church the following day. She told me that her church did not hold a Christmas Eve service, which surprised me. My 21-year-old daughter Lindsey overheard the discussion and motioned to me to invite her to our church and also offered to go pick her and the 2 grandchildren up because I had to work the service before the one we were going to attend. I made the offer to Victoria but she said she had to work and didn't think that it would work out. I told her she could call me up till 1:30 the next day in case she changed her mind.
Well, at 1:30 after I had arrived at church, I got a voice mail from Victoria stating that she was fixing the girls hair and could be ready if the offer was still good. I called my daughter Lindsey and asked if she could call her back to find out where she lived so she could pick them up. I received a text from Lindsey a little later saying that she was on her way to church with all 3 of them. She also told me that the little girls were not going to have any presents under the tree because Victoria did not have the funds. Lindsey sent her older sister Christine a text telling her to go to the store to get some coloring books and crayons for the girls.
We have a Christmas Eve tradition at our house of friends and relatives coming over after service to enjoy food and listen to my stepfather Ken read “The Night Before Christmas”. Lindsey invited Victoria and the girls to come back to our house after the church service, and Victoria agreed. When Lindsey walked into the church with one child on either side of her holding their hands, knowing they had not met before that night, it melted my heart. Victoria was following behind them. After the service I headed to pick up the food to take back to my house.
I couldn't get out of my head the thought of no gifts for those children the next morning so I went to Drugmart and headed down the toy aisle. I spent $200 of my Christmas Jar money and overfilled the cart. I also picked out stockings and stocking stuffers so that Santa could put them at the end of their beds, which is another family Christmas tradition. I finally headed home where everyone was waiting. My two girls were on the floor coloring with the little ones and Victoria was mingling with strangers who quickly became friends. I unloaded presents and assigned wrapping duties to 3 of the ladies which all took place in the living room. Each girl was to have a bag of gifts that Victoria was to unload after the girls went to bed so that they saw that Santa had not forgotten about them! My mom had called me saying she was on her way over to our house so I filled her in on what was taking place. She and Ken stopped at CVS and bought more gifts for the girls, which were brought into the house in a big Christmas bag. They explained to the little girls that Santa had stopped by and dropped off some gifts for them, which they eagerly opened with the biggest eyes you have EVER seen!
In the meantime, Erich and I talked privately while everyone was busy and decided to take the $300 which was the rest of our Christmas Jar money and give it to Victoria in a check so that she could pay her utility bill to get the heat turned on. I had told Victoria's story to my Guest Services Team at the church where I attend and had someone give me $50 to give to her anonymously so the check was actually for the whole $350 that she needed! We wrapped the check up as a gift for Victoria to open Christmas morning. My mom also gave me a check for $100 that I wrapped, part of her Christmas Jar money, so that Victoria could buy herself something.
Santa delivered a good Christmas to all of us. It was probably the best Christmas Eve I have EVER had. Watching the two little girls with bright, wide eyes, wearing their new princess jewelry and listening to Ken read “The Night Before Christmas” was indescribable. God put these people in my life for a reason. We were all able to contribute love that night to 3 individuals who needed to see that someone cared. The heat was finally turned on 2 weeks ago after repairs to her new home were made following a freezing pipe incident. Victoria sent me a photo of the two girls eating their first lunch on the kitchen floor in their new home. Talk about God's blessing! I thank Jason Wright for writing the Christmas Jars and my sister Laurie for insisting that I read his book! Everyone needs to have a Christmas Jar!!!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
'It was probably the best Christmas Eve I have EVER had'
One of our longest stories, and worth every word!