Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve: some random, and a Christmas story

A few things to share with you while we're all still in the Christmas spirit...

A wool sweater made for me about 10 years ago by a very talented knitter
who worked at a yarn shop (sadly, now closed).
I love getting it out every year.

The tree image was one she found for a needlepoint pillow and converted to a knit pattern.

She knit little Christmas trees into the sleeves and back,
and used popcorn stitch (like tiny snowballs!) around the hem and collar.

Friday morning I called our broker and spoke with his assistant, Steph. We've never met, as their office is in another state, but Steph (and the broker) are great people - so very nice, so very patient with their less-than-organized client. As we finished the business I'd called about, Steph asked about our plans for Christmas, and then I asked about hers. "Oh, tomorrow morning we're doing Santa pancakes and then packing up and getting on the road to be with our extended families who live a few hours away."

Santa pancakes? When I asked what they were, she explained that when their kids were little, she had bought a Santa-shaped pancake mold to pour batter into, and it's become part of their Christmas celebration. After the pancake is cooked, they decorate it with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and maraschino cherries. And then she sent pictures from last year's breakfast!

How's that for a happy Christmas tradition?

And last, here's a real Christmas story.

My neighbor, J, had decided to cut down the two pine trees, both Christmas tree size, in her yard, because she wanted a different kind of tree there. She wanted to use one of her two pine trees for her own family's Christmas tree and hoped to find a family in need that might want the other.

While volunteering at a local food & clothing pantry doing intakes for new clients, J met a woman (who we'll call R) in pretty dire straights: 4 kids, now divorced, newly impoverished, she was trying to understand what resources were available. She happened to ask my friend J: do you know anyone who might donate a Christmas tree? Bingo!

J told me about R and how she was going to donate her extra tree. J teaches piano in her home, and had asked her students (her 'piano kids') if they would like to make some ornaments for R to have on the tree. I mentioned it to my mom, and she donated ornaments.

What about a tree stand? Another neighbor offered to donate one.

What about lights? I had extra strands of lights to donate.

So: Tree, stand, lights, ornaments.

Then, things got really interesting.

Because I had put out an email to our church members about families needing to be sponsored for the Cathedral Shelter Christmas Basket program, I got a number of inquiries, and we were able to place all those families that had been on a waiting list. Then I got an email from a friend of someone in the parish who liked the idea of sponsoring a family and wanted to participate. We were out of families. But - what about R? So I put this woman in touch with J. And now I'll let J tell the rest of the story, as she related to her mom in an email:

“Hi, Mom,

Do you want to hear a good xmas story?

You know that I offered a tree to a woman I met at the food pantry, right? She has 4 kids and can’t work because she has cancer and is getting chemo. She used to be a surgical nurse. She also has epilepsy from being hit by a drunk driver. Her ex was abusive and now refuses to pay any child support or alimony. He teaches law at [highly acclaimed Chicago university]. R kept holding my hand and crying when I told her we’d give her a real tree. I then asked my piano kids if any of them wanted to make home made xmas ornaments to send with the tree. Here’s what happened:

1. ended up with close to 30 ornaments. Also got a donated tree stand and 3 strands of lights.

2. One mom donated $100 food gift card to Jewel

3. A neighbor gave my name to a woman who wanted to sponsor a family at xmas. She purchased and wrapped a coat and a toy for each child, plus gave a food gift card to the mom.

4. One mom runs a foundation to help families who are facing financial difficulty due to a medical issue. She offered to help R with the application. Given that the mom is on the board and started the foundation, I think R will be served.

5. Same mom is a Family Law attorney. She said the ex-husband ought to be taken out and shot, and has offered her services free of charge to make him accountable. She is tracking him down through the state law board. Can you imagine how pissed and embarrassed he’ll be when his wages at [highly acclaimed Chicago university] start getting garnished for non-payment of child support?

6. One of R’s kids has physical and mental limitations. The School District has said they have no services for her. The same attorney has a sister who has a disabled child and is an advocate for such families. She has offered to advocate for R and her daughter to see what services the district should be offering….because they should be offering something.

7. A piano family has offered to buy a xmas present for each child as well as one for R.

……..all because I wanted a fringe tree instead of the pine trees! I offered a tree….and look at what grew from that!”


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!


  1. Thank you, Ginnie, for this wonderful post.

    I love the ribbing on that sweater, and the beautifully detailed tree with the beaded trim. Those Santa pancakes look great.

    And the touching story about the needy woman and her family - what a blessing for her and for you all that your neighbour decided to change her landscaping! God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.

    Hope you and G have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.

    P.S. Yes, we enjoyed the L&C very much - even what we call the "blackboard" songs (as in fingernails on a blackboard) - the dissonant, atonal modern ones. (We don't actually like that style of music but we get a bit of a laugh out of it. And it's a good chance to get up and refill coffee cups.) The service was wonderful as always, and we reminisced about our day there. What a great memory.

  2. What a story! May God bless every one.

    And I hope the fringe tree flourishes in the neighbor's yard.

  3. What a wonderful snapshot of heaven on earth.


Thank you!