In 1989, when our family lived in Phoenix, we had a Christmas we would never forget. We had three young children, I was a stay-at-home mom, and my husband, Chip, worked for an engineering company. In the late fall, Chip’s firm laid off a large number of employees, of which he was one. We did not have a big savings account to tide us over until he found another job. Christmas can be stressful at the best of times, with all the gift buying, parties, concerts, events, wrapping, mailing, etc, but without a steady income, it is even more challenging. I did not anticipate that the season would be a joyful one. I felt like our family was walking on a high wire with no safety net, and one wrong move would slam us into the ground. Day in and day out, I would repeat Philippians 4:13 to myself—“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”—to keep myself calm enough to move forward.

Chip found temporary jobs to keep us afloat, but there was no money for extras: Christmas gifts, baking ingredients, wrapping paper, holiday cards–all the things that make Christmas “Christmas,” or at least what I thought was essential to the celebration of the season. We sat down with our three kids, ages eight, six, and three, to discuss what we could do to make this Christmas special, and we came up with a plan. We decided to make all of our Christmas gifts, both for each other and for our extended family. Following this family decision, we opened our front door one day and were astonished to find a large basket of baking ingredients from some anonymous friends. Miraculously, my mother and grandmother also sent a box of the same, which allowed us to make and give away cookies and bread. All of our handcrafted gifts were wrapped in homemade paper.

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