my christmas story.

as we know, the holidays have a way of making people nostalgic, and they use this time of year to remind themselves of who they were in years past, and who they are today. i’m not immune to this holiday syndrome, and while my home is now full of four children and a wonderful husband, when I look back,  i often remember my first christmas as a single mom.  at the time I was a college student and putting myself through school while working three part time jobs.  I had no money to buy ozzie anything outside of the bare necessities to survive, and felt sad and discouraged that my best effort was not enough to give my son everything he deserved for the holidays.

 somewhat defeated, i headed home to be with my family.  i arrived a couple days before christmas, and with no money, no spouse, and no friends my age with children, my week was spent around the house with ozzie and my parents.  by day two, my mom could tell something was wrong, and when she asked i burst into tears. what’s interesting (and looking back, one of my favorite moments in this story) is that she could have given me 20 bucks to go buy something for ozzie, or wrote my name on one of the gifts she had already gotten him, but somehow she knew that wasn’t what was meant to happen. instead she was inspired to give him something that we (and he) would always know came from me; from my hands, and my heart.. she chose a pattern for a nativity set that  we would hand make and give to ozzie. at the time, the gift hardly seemed worthy of being THE christmas gift for my baby’s second christmas, but sewing it passed the time, and made me feel somewhat able to provide him with something.

 feeling insignificant as a parent is something i wish for no one. here i was, 21 years old, raising a son on my own, going to a respected university, working three jobs, and i couldn’t recognize that what i was doing WAS enough. it wasn’t about the perfect gift, or the tree, or new shiny toys, it was about rising to what was expected of me in that situation, and doing the best i could for that moment. maya angelou says “when you know better you do better” and while i agree that it is true, i would even dare to rephrase it to say “when you can do better, you will do better”. that’s what this christmas with ozzie was about. it was about doing what i could to make his world a special place for him – and that is the standard to which we should all be held. rise to where we can go, and do what we can do, at that very moment we are called to do it.

 as i have been reflecting on my little christmas story it seems so perfectly ironic that the gift i made {with my mom’s help!} is the picture of a mom and dad preparing for the birth of their savior baby. i imagine when mary and joseph looked around at the stable where their son was going to be born,  the location hardly seemed good enough.  everyone wants something better for their children, just as mary and joseph did, but can you imagine the story of the nativity any different? can you imagine it taking place in a castle, or a fancy hotel, or anywhere else that would seem “suitable.” the place wasn’t the point, they did what they could to bring our savior into the world in the best place they could find. yes it was a stable, and yes ozzie’s gifts were handsewn dolls, but it was doing what we could do at that moment that mattered.

 today i consider that handsewn nativity set the best gift i’ve ever given. not only because it is a sweet reminder of the season in life when it was just my son and me, but because as hard as that time was, it was a remarkable season to have lived.  it’s easy to look back in disappointment seeing the mistakes made, the hard times lived, and the tears shed, but in those times there is also light that shines through. sometimes it’s hard to see at first, but it is always there. that nativity set is a reflection of that light. it is the reminder that i {with a lot of faith + grace} was good enough for my son, and that i could provide for him exactly what he needed. he just didn’t need the things i thought he did. and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

merry christmas friends.

xo . rae

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  • Karie C December 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Rae…your story brought me to tears and I am thankful that you sent this when you did. Powerful stuff…who knew that your story then would be so inspirational and heart-touching now. Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family… and your mom & dad are the best! 🙂

  • Emily December 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    This is such a touching, powerful story. Thank you for sharing. Your baby boy was {and is} lucky to have you as a mama. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  • KC December 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    beautiful Rae.

  • hillary December 22, 2011 at 1:33 am

    love this!

  • Kelly December 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Beautiful story. Thank you for being so honest and willing to share.

  • Kacey @ Shes.No.Martha December 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Perfection. This IS what it is all about….

  • rachel December 23, 2011 at 1:00 am

    What a beautiful story. I am sitting w/ tears. This is what Christmas is all about. Hope ya”ll have a wonderful Christmas!!

  • Nicole December 24, 2011 at 5:14 am

    This is such a sweet story. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing…

  • Gina December 25, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Thank you for sharing. Inspiring and beautiful~

  • Kamela January 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Wow! That was so beautiful to read!! When you know you CAN do better, you WILL! Thanks for sharing your heart! I look forward to all your blog posts! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  • Kari February 1, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I love how God turned ashes into beauty! He is so good. I love your story, and I love your heart.
    Peace & Love,

    • rae February 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      hi kari,
      thanks so much for your comment!
      that is the scripture {isaiah 61} i held onto with a tight grip during that time in my life. He is so good!
      xo . rae

  • Mm mommy June 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Just read this again, and loved it again.
    Can so relate, thinking back to last Christmas, just after my husband and I had separated and thinking “why can’t this be better for my little girl?”. But it also reminds me of the good choices i made and that I stopped crying, swallowed my pain, welcomed my husband in and created a special holiday all together. And that’s what’s most important.