“Strings of Sacrifice,” Ensign, December 2015, 76
One Christmas years ago I had too much on my mind to savor the season. My husband, Andy, had developed a cough that, following medical tests, briskly evolved into lung damage, surgery, reconstruction of his esophagus, and biopsies—“just to be safe.” His surgery occurred a week before we moved to a new home.
A few weeks before Christmas, I visited with my neighbor Janae. She asked if I was ready for Christmas. I managed to reply that I was as ready as I would be. I mentioned that we’d always made Christmas cookies with my grandma just before Christmas, and that I’d wanted to make aprons for the girls but probably wouldn’t get around to it.
A week later I settled in the overstuffed chair beside our Christmas tree. The girls were in bed, and Andy was working in his office when I heard the doorbell. I opened the door to find Janae on my doorstep, holding three packages as snowflakes fell behind her.
“Come in,” I said, certain that she could sense my surprise.
“Thanks, but I need to get back,” she said. “These are for your girls.”
Janae handed me the packages.
“They’re aprons,” she said. “They’re not the best, but I was able to finish them tonight.”
In a moment of humbled astonishment, I breathed a thank-you. We hugged, and I watched her make her way home.
As I sat again in my chair, I carefully unfastened the white satin ribbon of one box. Upon opening it, I found a homemade apron fashioned from Christmas fabric. I ran a seam between my thumb and forefinger as I thought about Janae. She had four small children, including twins who were just over a year old. She taught piano, and she held a busy and important calling in our ward.
I tried to figure out when she would have had time to make aprons, and I knew at once that she didn’t have time. She made time.
Tears fell as I felt the love of Heavenly Father extended through Janae—a measure of warmth and comfort as I was encircled about “in the arms of [His] love” (D&C 6:20).
It has been many years since we received the aprons. My daughters have long since outgrown them, but I keep them in my pantry, hanging by their strings from a polished hook underneath newer ones. Each time I see Janae’s gifts, I’m reminded of the comfort and love I felt that night. They remind me of what I want to be—a disciple of Jesus Christ worthy of revelation and willing to give service.