The festive decoration was just what they needed for their first Christmas as a blended family.
Posted in , Oct 26, 2020
Fresh evergreen wreaths were piled up near the grocery store exit, taunting me with their scent. I longed to buy one for the front door of our home, the perfect way to put the finishing touch on my holiday decorating. A reminder of that warm, homey feeling I experienced as a kid from the Northwest. I wanted to bring that same feeling to our new, blended family.
I rolled my full cart into the parking lot, once again leaving the wreaths behind. My newlywed husband had suggested that we wait until closer to December 25, when they would go on sale. To him it was just another Christmas decoration. I never told him how much it would mean to me to hang a wreath, because I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.
After all, we’d been married for only a few months and things had gotten off to a bumpy start. He was a widower, with three children, ages 13, 11 and 9. At 45, I was not a young bride, and tying the knot meant leaving behind my life in Connecticut—my home, my church, my friends, my job as a nanny—to move into my new husband’s home in upstate New York. I knew I would miss my comfortable old routine, yet I intended to jump into my new life with both feet. Instead I literally hobbled in, having injured my leg playing racquetball shortly before the wedding. I even spent part of our honeymoon in the emergency room.
Though I was facing a lengthy recovery period from day one, there was little time to rest. I wanted to learn to cook for a family, run a household and adapt to being a stepmom. The children had had four different nannies in four years, ever since they’d lost their mom. Naturally they weren’t exactly overjoyed that their dad had remarried. I understood, but still I felt rejected.
I loaded the last of the grocery bags into the car. God, I could really use a reminder of your great love for me. I’d thought hanging a fresh wreath might bring me that comfort, but that would have to wait for another day.
Back at home I’d nearly finished putting the groceries away when there was a ring at the door. A delivery man stepped forward with a large box. “Merry Christmas,” he said. The return address was from Oregon, where my best friend lived. I tore open the box and found a gorgeous evergreen wreath. Its heavenly smell permeated the room. I rushed back outside to hang it. The rest of the family didn’t make much of a fuss over it, but how could I expect them to know all that was on my mind? Even my best friend had no idea of the gift she had given me.
The next day, as I pulled out of the driveway to take my stepson to school, I glanced at the front door and thanked God for sending me his comfort. “I think our wreath could use a bow,” I told my stepson. When I returned home, I scavenged through the drawers until I uncovered a wide strip of red velvet that I thought might work. I’d never been good at tying a bow, and I was going to be late to my Bible study if I didn’t hurry. The leader of the study group, actually, was quite good at crafts, so I put the ribbon in my purse, sure she could help me.
“This won’t work,” she said when I showed it to her. She demonstrated by tying a bow of the soft velvet—it had no structure. “It needs a wire to hold it in place.” I thanked her anyway, and we started our Bible study.
At the end of the meeting the leader surprised our group with Christmas gift bags. “I made these for you last week,” she said. I eased the tissue paper from mine and tears sprang to my eyes when I saw what was inside: a beautiful gold-and-red Christmas bow!
First the wreath. Now the bow. A bow, of all things! Who had ever gotten a bow as a gift before?
I left my Bible study overwhelmed with God’s love for me. I sat in my car marveling over his assurance that he would take care of me and help me in this new season of my life, as a stepmom and as a new wife. Before I set off, I checked my text messages and found a verse of encouragement from my mom: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). I had more than enough confirmation that God loved me and cared about all aspects of my life.
When I got home I attached my new Christmas bow to the wreath. It was perfect! I emailed a picture to my study group leader so she could see her handiwork. She wrote back, “It seemed an odd idea to make bows for people, but the Holy Spirit kept nudging me to do it!” Of course, I knew why.
That evening my husband came in from work and called to me from the doorway. “The wreath looks great,” he said. “Where did you get that fantastic bow?” I told him the story, and the two of us went to the front of the house to admire it, arm in arm. “You were right,” he said. “It’s just what the house needed for our first Christmas as a family.” And just what I needed to feel God’s comforting presence in our new life.
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