“Snowdrifts and Good Deeds,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 62
Snowdrifts and Good Deeds
Two families share their feelings about a treasured experience that happened one Christmas in Alaska.
Family A: Some years ago, when I was trying to teach my children about brotherly love and sharing, we held a family council and decided that each Christmas we would take what we had and help someone less fortunate. Our children would help choose the gifts, wrap them, and deliver them. This is now a highlight of each Christmas season at our home.
Last year one of the families in our ward was in obvious financial distress because of serious illness and loss of income. Because of their great need, a number of ward members helped with the contribution of money for and purchase of Christmas gifts, and asked our family to deliver them a few days before Christmas.
It was dusk as we piled all of our children into the car, along with the gifts. A special addition was a beautiful gingerbread house a ward member had made. As we approached our destination, however, we saw to our dismay that the whole family was eating supper right by the front window. This made anonymous delivery at the front door impossible.
We drove past the house and parked about a block away. While all the neighborhood dogs barked their disapproval, we sneaked up the road and decided to make our way through thigh-deep snow over a high embankment leading to the back of their house. The bank was so steep that I lost my balance once and fell backward into the snow with a single thought in mind: “Don’t drop the gingerbread house!” I didn’t, and we continued our ungraceful crawl as the family giggled and dogs increased their barking. Finally, near panic, we deposited the gifts on the patio and floundered back to the road as fast as possible.
The barking of the excited dogs accompanied us nearly all the way to the car, and then abruptly it ceased. Good grief! Were the dogs feasting on the gingerbread house? We ran to a nearby home, explained what we had done, and called “our” family, under guise, telling them to look on their patio for a Christmas surprise.
When we finally collapsed in the car with red cheeks, freezing feet, and a glow in our hearts, one of the children exclaimed, “Whose family do you think we should surprise next year?”
Family B: In past years our family had always enjoyed rather abundant Christmases because both my wife and I worked. But last year was different, and it turned into the most meaningful Christmas we have ever experienced.
Almost a year before, my wife had been forced to leave her job and take our children to the “lower 48” states so that one of our sons, who had cancer, could receive special treatment. In the past we had two incomes for one family; we now had to support two family units on only one income. Things were mighty bleak when my wife and children returned to Alaska, but we decided that just being together this Christmas was happiness and blessings enough.
Then strange things began to happen. First, the bishop asked if the ward could help. Finally, after quite a bit of persuasion, we agreed to have the ward supply some needed groceries. Then, people began to drop by with fruit and freshly baked bread. Finally, about two days before Christmas, three packages and a gingerbread house appeared on the patio anonymously. We were overwhelmed. We knew then that we were truly loved by our fellow ward members.
We plan to keep the gingerbread house throughout the years. It will help us remember the true meaning of Christmas.