Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

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I emailed a Christmas letter to my friends and family and thought I would post it on here as well since these are my thoughts and feelings this Christmas...

To My Dear Friends & Family,

This was our first full year without Aaron with us. This has truly been the most trying and difficult time of my life, but I have gained strength from peace through the knowledge of the gospel. It has been very difficult as we have tried to develop a 'new normal' in our lives. We miss Aaron, but we will forever be grateful for the sweet memories we have to reflect on. We have tried to keep busy to help in the grieving process. We have endured loads of heartache, but we have tried to still have loads of fun for the sake of Aaron Jr.

We are grateful for each one of you and the role you have played in our lives. Each one of you has touched our lives in a special way and we are eternally grateful for your love and support as we continue to navigate our way through this journey that we call life. We are very blessed to know each and every one of you. Thank you for what you are, what you do for us, and for the example you are in our lives.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6

We are grateful for our Savior. As we celebrate His birth and His life, I hope we can try to reflect on the love that He has for EACH and EVERY ONE of us. His atonement has played such a huge role in each of our lives and we are all indebted to Him for the miraculous gift He has given to us. He suffered for our sins and weaknesses... and He truly bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. I have felt Him bearing my griefs and carrying my sorrows this year. I could not have survived without Him. He is my Savior in every sense of the word... as He is the Savior of us all. As long as we Come Unto Him, He will walk with us through whatever challenges we may be facing that tend to bring us down. What treasured promises He has made to us. I love Him and I am truly grateful for Him.

I am also grateful for Aaron Jr. He has been a hero to me this year. He is one of my greatest reasons for even getting up each day. He keeps me laughing and finding joy in each new day because he is a gift from my Father in Heaven.

As we seek to find ways to receive true joy and lasting happiness in this life, may the Lord bless us all. MERRY CHRISTMAS our dear and true friends.
We love you all very much...

Love always, Leslie * Aaron Jr.


As Christmas morning approaches just a few hours away, I am sitting here watching Aaron Jr. sleep. All month, it hasn't felt like Christmas... without a complete family here to enjoy it together, it is difficult to feel the excitement of the season. BUT, when I think about the reason we celebrate Christmas, I feel such gratitude for this day that we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
It is so interesting to me that we give gifts to each other in celebration of the birth of Jesus. When we celebrate our own birthdays, we are the ones to receive the gifts FROM others. A couple of years ago, Christmas 2006, I wanted to start a tradition in our own little family where we would GIVE gifts to the Savior for His birthday. So what we wanted to do was write down what we wanted to give the Savior for HIS birthday. So, I got out paper and envelopes and Aaron and I each wrote down what we wanted to work on in our own lives to better ourselves as a gift to the Savior for that year. After we wrote them, we sealed them, then we were going to open them on Christmas 2007 to see if we accomplished our gifts to the Savior. Well, as you all know, Aaron passed away a little less than a month before Christmas in 2007, so we didn't get to spend Christmas together. Our lives were turned upside down and we didn't get the chance to open our gifts to the Savior that year... or write new ones. It was all forgotten as we were sent into this storm in our lives.

Well, a few weeks ago, it hit me... and I remembered our new tradition that we only got to do one time together. I remembered the box that we had put our letters in to wait for the next Christmas to come. As I sat there trying to remember where it might be, I got out of bed and immediately went to rummage through our things to find that box. When I found it, I took it upstairs and took a photo of it. My camera was acting up, so these are blurry, but this is the gift box with our letters to the Savior...

And here are our letters. Again... super blurry.
Mine says:
To: Jesus
From: Leslie
Merry Christmas 2006

Aaron's says:
To Myself
For the Savior

I then opened them both up and read our letters to Jesus. I am not going to say what was in them because they are personal, but it definitely was so neat to read them both. It was so great to read something of Aaron's that I had never read before... in his handwriting. It meant so much to me and I am grateful that we started that tradition on his last Christmas was us.
As I write my letter to the Savior this year, I will remember our letters from two years ago and be grateful. I want my letter to the Savior this year to be one of hope and one of gratitude. A letter that shows Him my love and devotion. And a letter that shows Him that I want to be better.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. -John 16:33
What a blessed day Christmas is. My hope is that all of us can reflect on the TRUE meaning of this day not only today, but throughout the whole year... to remember what the life of Christ means in our own lives and what His atoning sacrifice will mean in the eternities to come. I love Him and I am grateful for Him.
Merry Christmas to all...
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Allred Mom said...

Merry Christmas to you and to Aaron Jr.!
What a wonderful post!
You were blessed with a very sweet tender mercy when you thought of the idea to give a gift of writing to the Savior 2 years ago. At the time you and Aaron wrote your "letters" to the Savior, you had no idea what a sweet tender mercy they would become. What a precious gift you have for yourself that you will be able to share with Aaron Jr. as he grows, so he can know the innermost feelings of his dad. May you and Aaron Jr. have a sweet and special day as you celebrate the Savior's birthday this day. Rachel

dani said...

much love and hugs,
dani XX

Tabitha said...

A Truly beauty full post Leslie ~ wishing you a very Merry Christmas
Love and big hugs Tabitha XXXX

kristen said...

Merry Xmas Leslie,
Thinking of you and Aaron
hope you had a great day.

Jen said...

That was a great post.
Please know that I was thinking about you and Aaron Jr. today.
I hope you had an 'ok' day.

Seesalou said...

love you, les. merry christmas.

Annalee Kelly said...

What a neat tradition. I'm so glad you found the box, what a tender mercy. Thank you for your testimony.

Kristin said...

Hi Leslie,
I don't know you and your don't know me. I had been told about your blog before, but never took up reading until recently. I admire you so much. I lost my mom this year and it has been very hard on me. I hope I can turn my attitude and handle it more gracefully as you do. I, too, love our Savior and am grateful for all he has done for us. I'm grateful for the knowledge I have for the eternal nature of our relationships. For some reason it has not given me the strength it has you. Perhaps reading your blog will help me allow the spirit to heal. Thank you for sharing!

Kristi said...

What a wonderful tradition to keep. How special that you were able to find another piece that brought Aaron closer to you at this season. Love you and Merry Christmas

Liz said...

I love that you were able to find that box and read a letter from Aaron.

Emily Ruth said...

Leslie, you (obviously)don't know me, but I found your page bloghopping. I am becoming aquainted with grief, and have found your posts so insightful and comforting. My thoughts are with you and hope you continue to find the beauty in the everyday. Blessings to you and your sweet family.

Jennifer said...

Merry Christmas, Thinking of you.... I love the letter idea and it is so special that you found Aaron's :)

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you found something new from Aaron. I know you will treasure it and that it will bring you fresh memories to savour.

Love to you


Shawn and Lily said...

Leslie, please check your email. There is a fun surprise waiting you there! :)

The Forney Four said...

I found out about your blog thru my sister Sara who is a photographer. You're such a beautiful person inside and out. In the last few weeks I have done my very best to treat my husband with greater kindness and love because of what you've written here. I know your pain is immense and I am so sorry for your suffering. Thank you for your strength and for your testimony. You can't imagine how many lives you are touching. I hope you had a merry christmas with that beautiful little boy of yours.

Joann said...

What a tender mercy! I hope your Christmas was wonderful, Leslie. You certainly deserve it. You are such a beautiful person and I thank you for your example to me. You are so strong and I am glad to see that you are getting sronger every day. Love you Les!

Annalee Kelly said...

Have you heard of or read the talk by Elder Holland, "Christmas Comfort?" He speaks of personal family loss during the holidays and how we can gain healing strength through the difficult season of loss. If you haven't or can't find it, I'd be happy to email it to you. I thought you'd love it. It is powerful. God bless you!

Tabitha said...

Hi Leslie,
Just popped over to wish you a happy new year ~ I hope 2009 brings you lots of love, luck and happiness.
Take care ~ love and hugs Tabitha XX

cynphil6 said...

Prayers are with you tonight, as you face a new year. I hope you are able to leave at least some of your sadness behind in 2008. I know He will continue to bless you.

Joann said...

Have I already commented? If not, you look GORGEOUS in that first photo. Yup, I already posted...sorry...kind of.

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