'Huge box' under tree made family feel loved by many

In 1977, I was in the hospital for three months with premature labor. I was pregnant with my third baby, our daughter, Nichole. Darrel, my husband, was going to law school at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. At that time, I was on complete bed rest.

Just before Christmas, all the department stores in Edmonton were open one evening to only people who were in hospitals or who had disabilities or were bedridden, and who could be transported to the stores. A friend made arrangements with the hospital to take me to the stores in a wheelchair. There were people on gurneys being pushed up and down the aisles. It was incredible to watch Christmas shopping done from hospital gurneys and wheelchairs. This made me appreciate what people have to go through when they are bedridden or are in wheelchairs. You couldn't stand up and reach what you wanted.Darrel and I did our shopping that year on a limited budget. We had two little boys at the time. Joseph was 21/2, and Matthew was 20 months.

I got out of the hospital a week before Christmas, and on Christmas Eve we had our little family pageant. The boys were dressed as Joseph and Mary, and we used a doll for Baby Jesus. We had our little Nativity, and then we put the boys to bed. We put our stockings out and went to bed ourselves. Our few presents were under the tree.

When we got up in the morning, we found a huge box under our tree. I thought Darrel surprised me, that he went out and did some more shopping. And he thought that I had done the same thing.

We opened up the box, and there were wonderful gifts for our little boys, and for Darrel and me. And they were personalized gifts. I looked over at Darrel and said, "Did you do this?"

"No, did you?" he responded.

"No," I answered.

Our front door was locked. We thought, "How did somebody do this?"

This Christmas was on Sunday, which was a neat thing for us. As we sat in Church that Christmas morning, I looked around, and I thought, "I bet they did it; they love us," and then, looking at another family, I thought, "It could be them." By the time Church finished, I felt like everybody in the ward loved us. It was a wonderful feeling.

Later, we discovered Darrel's younger sister, who had a key to our home, had let somebody in, but to this day we don't know who it was. I'm so glad that we don't know who it was because it made us feel loved by everybody. That was my favorite Christmas.

This experience helped us realize that when you don't know who gives to you, you feel more loved. Darrell said: "I think it has helped us to feel the importance of giving in special ways, and especially giving anonymously. As Latter-day Saints, we have lots of people dropping by during the holidays with surprises and things. This has helped us turn outward to our community"

Since then, our family has done a lot of "Twelve Days of Christmas," where you leave something at someone's door for the 12 days before Christmas. We do this almost every year. We choose a non-member family in our area and do it for them. It is really fun, and it's brought some really sweet experiences.

These activities are enjoyed by our whole family, including Joseph, 20, on a mission in Korea; Matthew, 17; Nicole, 15; and Daniel, 11.

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