We are surrounded by The World's Best People. Truly we are.
Our family started a tradition a few years ago of celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. Our little Pearson family did it years ago when I was young, and I so enjoyed it I wanted to carry it on with our Rodgers tribe.
The idea is that you do something for someone else every day from Dec 13 to Dec 25. It can be the same person or family each night, or someone different each day. It can remain anonymous or not. We have done it each way, differently each year depending on who was in our lives and what they were going through.
This year when we got out the big notebook to start planning our 12 days, we realized we didn't have one particular family, but lots and lots of special people who had been blessings to us this year that we wanted to bless in return. So we started planning all the things we were going to do for others, and, as has been true each year, we were the ones who received the greatest blessings.
One night we took a gift to a single widowed mother who works hard every day to provide for her sweet girl. She's a hero. Another night we had another single mother and her children over for dinner. Single mothers have a special place in my heart. :) And speaking of single mothers, another night we took a gift to a single mother of 5 who not only works hard every day, but her work is a gift to the community. She provides a rest stop/restaurant/local artists shop and every time a customer leaves her store, I know they feel the same warm and fuzzy feeling I do when I have been to Graves Grocery. :)
We caroled to neighbors for a few of the nights. One night we finally met some neighbors we had been wanting to meet for at least a year, because every time we have driven by their house we have seen the cutest little garden, pigs, chickens, and sunflowers. I kept thinking, they must be really cool people. And when we finally met them, they really were. We have new friends, Matt and Jen. One night we caroled at a home that is always lit up with literally HUNDREDS of inflatables, lights, moving parts, etc. It lights up the whole street! When the people answered the door we made more friends. A couple in their 80s who aren't in the best health and find it difficult to put up the decor each year, but do it as a gift to the community. We hope to help them next year. Another neighbor we caroled to is a beekeeper. Harold has kept bees for over fifty years, since he was a teenager. What started out as a hobby has turned into a business that blesses people (including us!) with the most delicious local honey you've ever tasted. Harold joined in our chorus of "Joy to the World" and then preached to us a little about how Jesus says in the book of Matthew that you can speak to the mountains, so he speaks to his bees. And that is why they make delicious honey. :) It was such a treat to listen to his wisdom. Recently we had been driving by and seen Harold (again, he is in his 80s) outside mowing the grass in his ditch. Brian stopped the car and offered to mow the ditch for him. Harold responded, "No, I'm going to keep mowing. If I ever stop moving, I'll die. I'm going to keep moving." What an inspiration.
We took goodies to a local friend who had a double mastectomy this year. Also she has ELEVEN children- some foster, some adopted. Once her children were grown and out of the house, she and her husband started adopting and fostering. At times they have had up to fifteen children, if I remember right. Not only is she still recovering from chemo, but has had back surgery and knee surgery recently. Yet she laughed, held Silas, hugged my babies and touched my heart with her can-do attitude. Her home is so happy and full. We went to the home of some sweet friends with five precious kids that we met at a local VBS a few years ago. She is another hero of mine, because she home schools her kids while her husband is frequently in another country fighting the war on terrorism. She is lovely. We visited our friend Beth, whom we met last year when she owned a local business called Missouri Jane's. Oh, how I loved Missouri Jane's. She made the best guacamole and chicken burritos! She became my friend over the times that our family went there for lunch or dinner and she served us so well. Beth had to close Missouri Jane's this year because her mother became very ill and she was the only one to care for her. Not to mention that Beth is the only caretaker for her two children, one who is autistic and one who she home schools. Another hero, right here in my community. We sang to her bedridden mother and I hope it was a blessing. It sure was a blessing for us.
One night we hosted a Dessert and Cider fellowship for our neighbors. Allie found two really complicated recipes in Southern Living that she decided to try: Spiced Gingerbread Cake with Buttercream Frosting, and Mocha Balls. The kids baked and cleaned and prepared all last Saturday. And on Saturday evening, we were blessed with a houseful of neighbors greeting, laughing, sharing stories of their year. It was lovely.
I cannot express in words what a joy it was to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas this year. We were reminded that our little Rodgers family was placed here by a very gracious God, in the midst of the The World's Best People. And we were challenged in the new year to find ways to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas all year long.