once upon a christmas... 

the extended wilcox family decided that, instead of giving gifts to each other, we would give gifts to someone that couldn't afford them.  we would give someone else christmas.

i was, like, 7? maybe 8?  i don't remember everything perfectly.

i do remember a giant refrigerator box merrily wrapped in red paper.  i remember a fire truck, some little girl clothes, and other goodies being carefully placed inside.  i remember my heart racing as dad and uncles put the huge box carefully on the porch and then ran back to the car.  i remember a good feeling warming every part of me and carols sung reverently.  i remember a few stray tears.

once upon another christmas... 

we were young.  young enough that anytime past 6 am was "too late" to be bouncing out of bed christmas morning.  we were planning on having two sets of grandparents to be there for the big day.  but when we found out that my aunt had to work christmas eve, my parents asked us if we could wait until maybe 11 am to open presents.

maybe our first thought was, 11?! 

but the spirit of christmas touched our hearts and we waited until 11.  we bounded out of the house when my aunt pulled up, dead tired but looking grateful to be there.  i remember thinking i would have waited until the next day, just to make christmas special for someone else besides myself.

once upon another christmas...

i sat in a cramped, teeny apartment in hong kong, china, surrounded by 5 other girls, sitting on beds and small stools or sprawled on the cold tile floor.  we were playing christmas music from a cd we'd gotten from the public library on our shared portable dvd player.  we'd made ourselves a special christmas breakfast -- nothing close to what i'd be having if i were home, but special to us nonetheless -- and we were exchanging gifts.  a single string of battery-operated christmas lights hung on the bunk beds above our heads.

i felt embarrassed at my gift of chocolate when i opened what 2 of the other girls had made for me.  one was a wooden box, hand-decorated, with my name on the front.  i opened it and found the sweetest note inside.  the other was a handmade wooden picture frame.  all of a sudden, i remembered the true meaning of christmas.

i love christmas.  this season is so happy.  and i think the grinch is absolutely dead-on.  christmas doesn't come from a store; it means infinitely more than what we get in our stockings.  and as you can see, my most memorable christmases weren't the ones when everything on my wish list was checked off.  the most memorable christmases were when i felt the love of the One that christmas is really all about.



it doesn't seem like too long ago that i posted the previous post.... and yet it's been almost 20 months!  crazy how time flies, isn't it?  so cliche, i know.

my mission was amazing.  i can't believe it's over already.  i miss it every day.  but...

i'm so happy to be where i am.

i love my family.  gosh, i love them.  it's been so fun to just hang out with them.  it's been awesome to work and come home to a good home-cooked meal {something i missed SO much while i was gone!}.  it's been amazing to be a temple worker.  it's been incredible to hear from my missionary sister.  it's been so happy to be home for christmas again.

i guess what i'm getting at here, is that LIFE COULDN'T BE ANY BETTER. 

i'm so incredibly thankful for the gospel and the Christmas season that reminds us of the joy that our Savior brings to each of us.  He brings peace, comfort, joy, love, light, laughter, meaning, and all things good to my life.

in all the things that i went through in the past 18 months, and all the things i'm about to go through in the next 18 months and more, i know He's always -- and will always be -- there.

i want you all to know it, too.

so happy to be back in the blogging world.  i don't even care if anyone reads this.  but maybe by the small stuff i write down, i'll be able to help someone {myself included} be a little happier today.

happy december!  cheers to post-mission life!