Fred and I were married December 8, 1990. As a young bride I wanted our first Christmas to be perfect, filled with wonderful memories and setting the stage for future traditions.
I wanted to kick off our marriage on the right foot and keep our Christmas focus where it needed to be, so I planned for us to have a Happy Birthday Jesus party following the Christmas Eve service at church. I spent the day baking delicious goodies and decorating our little kitchen for the party. Fred came home from work, we went to the service, and were just getting ready to enjoy our feast when Fred’s beeper went off.
At the time we got married, Fred owned a chain of 24 hour unattended coin laundries. Whenever the changer or one of the machines malfunctioned, the customer could call his beeper and he’d take care of the problem. Most of the time he would mail them the money, but this time they’d lost a ten dollar bill. Fred felt that anyone doing laundry on Christmas Eve should be reimbursed immediately rather than having to wait for it. So before I knew what was going on, he was putting on his jacket and heading out the door to go take care of his customer.
I’ve been known to overreact a few times in my life, and this may have been one of those times. I let Fred know in no uncertain terms that I had spent a lot of time planning and preparing for this spiritual celebration and I expected him to share it with me. He very calmly informed me that I was welcome to have my Happy Birthday Jesus party, but he was going to do what he could to make someone else’s Christmas a little better. I grumbled a bit then grabbed my coat. And as I reached into the coat closet, I noticed a bag of small toys left over from a children’s event we’d had at church earlier that week. So I grabbed the toys, then while I was at it, threw some of my cookies in baggies and tossed them in a basket to take with us.
We were both surprised to discover not just one lone customer doing laundry on Christmas Eve, but a store jamming with business. While he found the customer who had lost the money, I went around distributing toys to the children and cookies to the adults. The laundry quickly became a festive Christmas party. Inspired, we went to the other stores. They, too, were busy. At the last store we gave away the last of our toys and cookies.
We never had our Happy Birthday Jesus party at home. Instead, I spent the evening making more goodies and we made a laundry cookie run on Christmas day. Delivering toys and cookies became our Christmas tradition which we continued the entire time we were in the laundry business. It became Brittany’s favorite Christmas tradition and when we moved on from the laundry business, we adapted it to taking cookies to anyone we could find who had to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Over the years we’ve delivered to emergency workers, convenience store employees, and homeless people.
This year we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I’m thankful that God gave me a husband who had the good sense to discern the best way for us to spend our first Christmas together.
Note: This story first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Point North Tidings. To receive your own free subscription to Point North Tidings email firstname.lastname@example.org.