Perhaps my most memorable Christmas is because of what I didn’t get that particular season.

Life had been hard for several years and the abundance we were accustomed to diminished some. But though there were those that said we were in dire straits, we never wanted for the essentials. I think mother and father handled the pressures, so it didn’t trickle down to the youngsters. Certainly, the older children knew the challenges we were facing, and I’m certain I was not oblivious to the need, but perhaps I did not comprehend the magnitude of our predicament. We relocated to Castle Valley for a fresh start in the country, and it happened to fulfill a life-long dream for my mother. It was what she and dad wanted for our family. So rather than a rash decision, the move was an answer to countless prayers.

children-christmas-tree-1083261-galleryWe had worked through the summer and for a good part of that time lived in a tent, but after a while we built and moved into the bunkhouse down below in the shade of the trees to escape the heat. That was a lot better. When school started we found ourselves still living in the bunkhouse. The fall brought cooler nights and eventually freezing temperatures. The cabin home was coming along but wasn’t going to be finished by Christmas. Yet, we expected to have our own shower for the first time in six months (which was wonderful), once we moved into the partially finished home.

We had always been given so much for Christmas in years past, but this season was going to be different. Mom and Dad had given up everything to secure the farm, build a home, and pay for improvements. It left precious little for gifts. We knew that and had accepted the fact that there would be no Christmas presents this year. We already had so much anyway–perhaps not in worldly measures–but in love, family, good land, food, and the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. My parents sincerely appreciated the bounty the Lord had given us and taught us to recognize and thank the Lord for all our blessings.

One evening we were sitting in a section of the unfinished house that was heated with a potbelly stove, and there was suddenly a loud knock at the door. Before we could answer it, a vehicle sped up the long snowy road and off the property. When we did open the door, an enormous cardboard box sat on the porch. We pulled it inside to open and examine its contents. To our surprise, there were presents, and food, and canned hams, and much, much more. That Christmas we were the recipients of a sub-for-Santa

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project and because of the kindness of others, we ate delicious foods, opened gifts, and thanked an unknown giver for presents we could not have purchased ourselves that year.

I don’t really remember the specifics of what we received that year. It doesn’t matter. It was that we were given something in our time of need. And like so many times before, the Lord turned this challenge to our good and has made the experience a blessing in our lives and that of many others as a result.

I know that Heavenly Father listens to us when we tell Him what is in our hearts, and He often answers our prayers through other people. – Luis Mario Marcelo Carvajal Arce commenting on the article Improving Our Prayers by Joseph B. Wirthlin

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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