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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at www.susanwanderer.com 

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My Stomping Grounds

The most important gift for your child this Christmas

It's almost CHRISTMAS EVE! It’s the time of year when moms all over the world are feeling the crunch of Christmas-Memory-Making-Mode.

Each year, right about this time, I think: I only have a few days left to make this Christmas a memorable one!

I immediately feel like I am missing something:

Did they drink enough hot cocoa by the fire? 

Did I get the right cozy pajamas?

Are the Christmas presents going to bring forth the joy?

And the Happy Birthday Jesus Cake… I need to get to the grocery story!

I sat down this morning to sip my coffee in my Christmas mug and make my final countdown list til Christmas Day. 

I searched my thoughts to remember my favorite parts of my own Christmas as a child.  A delightful nostalgia filled the corners of mind. 

My father was a third generation apple farmer and my mother a preschool teacher.  My parents like to see someone’s face light up with joy more than just about anything else in this world.

As a child, every Christmas Eve, our clan of three would pile up in my dad’s pickup truck and embark upon a day of gifting. Our truck bed was full of bushels of apples and a few gifts. My mom’s hands held the list of the recipients.

I felt like I was sitting between Santa and Mrs. Claus and I couldn’t wait for our first stop.  Our list held names of senior adults, sick people, pastors, UVA coaches, homeless shelters, neighbors, and anyone else my parents had added to our schedule of surprises.  

Off we went! I was the one who rang the doorbell… such a treat! My nervous six-year-old finger shook with a bit of excitement as I pressed the button.  After a few seconds of waiting, a curious, beautiful grandmother greeted us with a smile that filled her doorway. 

My dad’s big booming voice roared behind me: "Merry Christmas! We thought we’d bring you some Christmas cheer!"

Then I was squished between the warm embrace of a dear grandmother and my mom.

After we visited a little while, dad gave her a hug, offered to pick her up for the Christmas Eve service at church, and then informed her we had several more stops, so we had better get moving.   

The woman’s shaky voice still can be heard in my ears: "You have just made my Christmas! Thank you for remembering me!"

And just like that, we were off to the next stop.

We heard statements all day long:

I was just sitting here hoping to see someone today!

You are the gift to me!

What have I done to receive such a present?

My goodness, what a wonderful Christmas surprise!

We also made a special stop to our apple farm to deliver gifts to the workers and families that lived there.  Dad sat down, read the Christmas story from the Bible, prayed and then handed out presents. Squeals filled the room as they ripped open their presents.

As an adult, I now realize the apples nor the gifts were the actual gift of this day.

My parents were teaching me the importance of making people feel seen. They showed me that serving others is a more cherished memory-maker than all the packages under the tree.

Somewhere between the matching Christmas pj's and the twinkly lights I need to be reminded that the most important part of Christmas is making room for people, showing them they are valuable & reminding them they are loved by a very faithful God who sent us love wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Serving others, that's the greatest memory-maker I can give my kids this Christmas.

So, after this cup of coffee is complete, I’m packing my kids up, going to the nearest bakery, grabbing a few pies (apple, of course) and we will make our own list of deliveries.

And today, we will make people feel seen and loved.

Merry Christmas, friends!

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Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches learned about a very important resource for families who have lost loved ones to sudden tragedy, an organization called LLOST.

keepsake box

The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.

Read more...