I come from a happy big family.On each Christmas night, our entire family gathers at my oldest sister's home, exchanging gifts, watching the nativity skit put on by the smaller children, eating, singing and enjoying a visit from Santa himself.
The Christmas of 1988, my husband Bob and I had four children. Peter was eleven, Leigh-Ann was nine, Laura was six and Matthew was two. When Santa arrived, Matthew parked himself on Santa's lap and pretty much remained dazzled by him for the rest of the evening. Anyone who had their picture taken with Santa that Christmas also had their picture taken with little Matthew.
Little did any of us know how precious those photos with Santa and Matthew would become. Five days after Christmas, our sweet little Matthew died in an accident at home. We were devastated. We were lucky to have strong support from our families and friends to help us through. I learned that the first year after a death is the hardest year, because without your love, birthdays and special days become sad, instead of joy.
When our first Christmas without Matthew approached, it was hard for me to get into the holiday spirit. Bob and I could hardly face putting up the decorations or shopping for special gifts for everyone. But we went through the motions for Peter, Leigh-Ann and Laura. Then, on December 13, something extraordinary happened to raise our spirits when we didn't think it was possible.
We were just finishing dinner when we heard a knock on the front door. When we went to answer it, no one was there. However, on the front porch was a card and gift. We opened the card and read that the gift-giver wanted to remain anonymous; he or she just wanted to help us get through a rough time by cheering us up.
In the gift bag was a cassette of favorite Christmas music, which was in a little cardboard Christmas tree. We put the cassette in our player and, song by song, the spirit of Christmas began to warm our hearts.
That was the beginning of a series of gifts from the clever giver, one for each day until Christmas. Each gift followed the theme of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" in a creative way. We would get calls from our family, neighbors and friends who would want to know what we had received that day. Together, we would chuckle at the ingenuity and marvel at the thoughtfulness as we enjoyed each surprise. We were so caught up in the excitement and curiosity of what would possibly come next, that our grief didn't have much of a chance to rob us of the spirit of Christmas. What our elf did was absolutely miraculous.
Each year since then, as we decorate our Christmas tree, we place on it the decorations we received that Christmas while we play the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." We give thanks for our elf who was, we finally realized, our very own Christmas angel. We never did find out who it was, although we have our suspicions. We actually prefer to keep it that way. It remains a wondrous and magical experience - as mysterious and blessed as the very first Christmas.
从那时起，每年，当我们装饰圣诞树时，我们都会在圣诞树上放上我们在圣诞节收到的装饰品，同时我们还会放一首歌“圣诞节的十二天”。我们感谢我们的精灵， 我们终于意识到我们自己的圣诞天使。虽然我们有怀疑，但我们一直没有查出是谁。实际上我们更愿意保持这种状态。它仍然是一场奇妙而神奇的经历。 美好的时光--就像第一个圣诞节一样神秘而幸福。