Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Curveball

My husband and I planned to keep Christmas simple this year. It would be nice to spend Christmas with my family; mom, her husband Fred, my sister, brother-in-law, niece/nephew and their towheads who all moved to North Carolina 16 months ago. 
However, a few layoffs have set us back so we will enjoy local gatherings with friends to break-bread and toast as we celebrate the true gift of the season. 

Tammy Sue Willey blogspot
Fred Babe's Bday May 2014

At least we'd seen our family in May when we celebrated Fred's 66th Birthday with carrot cake in Manchester.

While wondering what to offer people during the holiday, we received old fashioned gifts one by one; a live wreath, a box of fruit, sausage and cheese, a Texas pecan pie and a fresh cut Christmas tree! Last time we had a tree was 4 years ago. Working at a school, only 5 more days till winter break and I could recharge my batteries and decorate our tree and prepare for a relaxed simple Christmas!

December 16 I received a call at work, Fred, my step-father in North Carolina died unexpectedly that morning. Mom found him on the couch. We had to change our simple and frugal plans to, "How are we going to get to NC?" A series of car problems made our vehicles unreliable.

Of course I wanted to be with my mom and family but "How" was testing my faith. In summary, within one week:

  • I found coverage for my absence at work.
  • A friend lent us her GPS
  • People who hardly know us or the depth of our needs, gave unexpected monetary gifts which buffered the reality of our situation.
  • Our neighbors watched our home, fed our pets and watered the tree. 
  • Our car was dropped off at the garage for repair. 
  • Christmas car rental prices are astronomical; we received a bereavement break, cutting the charges in half. 
We still have "real" things to deal with at home, but I felt these flowing gifts were God saying, Go and don't worry. It will work out.

We arrived two hours before mom's Christmas Eve church service. Afterwards, shopped at the only store opened, Target, to find gifts for the three nephews. Sleeping in mom's guest room made Christmas morning easy to exchange thrift store finds and baked goods. Mom loved the live wreath we gave her. Christmas meal at my sister's; I was able to contribute fruit, sausage and cheese. We ate, exchanged gifts and sang songs with our family.

It was strange reading cards and gift tags from Mom and Fred Babe in his writing just days before he passed.

I called him Fred Babe, my sister called him Freddy Bear or Pops. Collectively our family participated with various readings and songs during an unexpected memorial service on Saturday, two days after Christmas. My brother and nephew in Connecticut, joined us in spirit and phone calls. A reception followed.

  • The drive to and from NC took longer than planned. 
  • I was up late every night helping my mother with something. 
  • This trip tested my faith, trust and attitude. 
Tammy Sue Willey blogspot

Now the Target Story: Shopping at Target Christmas Eve (just what I love to do, NOT!) a woman was sitting in an aisle, head down in her hands, crying and rocking herself while her baby girl lay in the carriage. Trying to comfort her she leaned into my shoulder and cried, "There will be no Christmas and my kids won't understand why. I can't even get my baby girl her diapers and medicine. He didn't show up. He broke his promise."

"Who broke his promise?"
"My husband who is divorcing me." 

She'd been walking around the store 3 1/2 hours waiting for his promise of Christmas money for their kids. 
  • Her husband was leaving her and their 3 children after several years of marriage.
  • Her parents can't help her because they died in a car crash with her oldest daughter. 
  • She concluded God had forgotten her.
To say the least, this was far from the "simple" and "frugal" plan I'd envisioned for myself this Christmas. 

However, it also wasn't the Christmas my mom or family imagined, nor this young mother's.

I don't know how any of this is going to work out, we still have to drive home and face our reality. Like Mary and Joseph who had found themselves in an unfavorable situation to give birth to their son, I was shown when life looks impossible, 
only He, their son, our Christmas gift, can orchestrate the timing of such events. 

Because Fred Babe died, people gave us money to get to NC and four hours after arriving, we found ourselves in Target (the only store open) with a crying mother and her baby who made our situation pale in comparison. Prompted by His Spirit, I was reminded of what I had so I gave her some of the money gifted to us. Or was it for her?

She said, "You don't even know me."
Hugging her I said, "Trust me, if you only knew how we just landed here. Let us share this with you. Now go get Christmas for your kids."

Other than his wedding, you wouldn't find Fred at a formal church service or with long pants on. He always wore shorts. But he would be the first in line to serve meals at any church function or community need. He was made in the U.S.A. and proud of it. 

Fred Babe - I think you'd be pleased to know that while celebrating your life, you not only brought our family together for the holidays, but brought us closer. 

And as one last act of serving, Fred fashion behind the scenes, I also believe you helped a young mother to know that God had not forgotten her. 

May you rest in peace...

Tammy Sue Willey Blogspot
Fred and Linda Loegel

For a Christmas with no gifts to originally offer, it became a Christmas overflowing with gifts from Him who keeps on giving. I can't take any credit for this, I just had to show up and play ball.

Maybe that is what Christmas is about after all!

tammy sue willey blogspot
Our Christmas Tree Gift - alive and well upon our return.

When life throws a curveball, 
are the unexpected events a bad thing or an opportunity 
to cling to faith?


Linda Loegel said...

Tammy Sue that is beautiful! So raw and honest and full of emotion and wonder. Thanks, baby girl, you brought tears to my eyes. Mom. P.S. Your tree is gorgeous.

Cathy said...

Beautiful story Tammy Sue. Love ya.

Tammy Sue Willey said...

Mom, sorry for why we were there, but so glad we could be with you and during Christmas. Love you.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, my friend.

HKBC 1.5

Tammy Sue Willey said...

Love you too Cathy, thank you.

Tammy Sue Willey said...

HKBC 1.5 You and your family were in my heart during this trip.

Linda Loegel said...

I'm glad you were here, too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tammy Sue,

I tried to leave a message on you blog twice. I'm just not tech savvy enough.

But I wanted to tell you I loved the story! And I'm thankful you shared it!!

Love you ~ D.S.

Anonymous said...

What a great story, Tammy Sue. God is using you! (LY)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart with your writing. (LCM)