Last week, Rhonda and I challenged you all to write or record a Christmas memory or moment from your holiday this year. We accepted our own challenge and below are both of our Christmas highlights. 

Rachel’s thoughts:

There is a certain ache that comes with having one of your children serve a mission for the LDS Church. It’s not a bad ache, it’s a good ache, if that is at all possible. As a mom, you are thrilled that they feel such passion about something that would devote two years or 18 months of their life to the cause. But the ache comes in all too fast because you miss them terribly – they leave when they are just coming out of those angsty teenage years and becoming these delightful people that you love to hang out with. That ache only increases when every holiday or special occasion comes along. The weird thing about the ache is that you don’t want them to come home early or not go at all, but there is a hole in your heart – like a part of your heart is beating somewhere else. For me, that part of my heart has been beating in Sweden for the past 5-1/2 months.

This Christmas season has been tough for me. I have missed my daughter Lydia terribly. She is always my right hand during Christmas – helping with the holiday baking, wrapping or just late night dancing or running when I need to release some stress. But she’s not here and I have been learning to cope without her. This ache isn’t new. My son served in the Australia Sydney South mission from 2013 to 2015. I know the ache all too well. But as much as the ache exists, there is  nothing quite like the joy that comes on Christmas when you get that precious 45 minutes to an hour to talk to your blessed child and yesterday was absolutely the best Christmas gift I could have ever asked for!

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There is nothing quite like having all your children together, even if it is via skype, I’ll take it!

Seeing that face, hearing that voice and knowing that she is doing well – she is happy – wow, the ache turned to this unequivocal joy. Even better? Watching my children, husband and her grandparents feel that joy as well. We all clamored around the laptop computer, asking questions, requesting songs for her to sing or poems for her to recite (she’s always been a great entertainer for our family) or just to hear her laugh. I wanted to break through the computer screen and just squeeze the heck right out of her! For me, reading her emails and seeing her pictures is good, but a mother needs that moment to read her child, to read her voice, her eyes, her expressions to know she is truly okay. I got that yesterday – it was  a cherished Christmas gift, a beautiful memory. Her voice is beautiful, her eyes are bright, her expressions are still pure Lydia – a complete delight. The end of the call came all too quickly. Tears were shed, testimonies were born, encouraging words were said. My 10-year-old daughter summed up all of our feelings when she let out silent sobs into my arm as she tried to stay strong and say her goodbyes – although her missionary sister saw right through it and shed a few tears herself. But I left the visit with a lighter step, a lightened heart and feeling like Christmas was perfect, and it was. That familiar missionary mom ache is slowly creeping back in, but I’ve watched the video we took of her at least 100 times since then and it is still bringing a smile to my face and I think I might survive until May when that ache turns to joy again for about 45 minutes. And when I say I had a Merry Christmas, I truly mean it, because I had a few moments of all of us together. I can’t ask for anything better until I can have her in my arms again.

Rhonda’s thoughts:

When I knew my mother-in-law was coming to see us for Christmas, I sent her a Facebook message asking if she would let me interview her. What a wonderful time we had for an hour! I felt like it deepened our relationship. We would have been together anyway but the norm is just to make small talk. Instead, she shared memories and I learned more about who she really is. I now have a lot of her story which I had never heard before, and probably is not recorded elsewhere. I intend to follow up but even if this is the only time, now my daughter will always have her Grandma’s voice. Also, it was recorded at a time when she is in great health. Sure, it wasn’t perfect audio since my daughter was climbing on me for attention at times, but many good intentions in life fall to the wayside waiting for circumstances to be just right. In my mind, NOW is the perfect time. Also, I can’t emphasize how easy it was.

After lunch, we sat in the living room, pulled out the recorder and started asking her questions.  Since it was Christmas, I led with the ice breaker, ‘Tell me what Christmas was like growing up.’ The interview flowed from there with follow-up about her family, their home, and then her adult life. She also mentioned that a while back, she started to write her own history but never finished it. Now that she is thinking, she may pull that unfinished project out again. I truly hope so.

What is your best Christmas memory this year? Write it down! We would love you to share it with us too!