This started about 3 weeks ago, as Brian and I were chatting about the Christmas season and that the best part of Christmas are the days before the actual day. Christmas day is kind of a downer day because we quickly open presents, we eat and then what do we do for the rest of the day? 24 days of anticipation for very little in our home.
I began to ponder about my favorite holiday Easter. It is one day, but not the same feelings as Christmas. Why? Well for the past 2 years, we focused on having a Christ Centered Easter which was a 7 Day Celebration in our home. We love it, our nieces and nephews love it! Not because of the Easter basket filled with goodies Saturday morning, but because of the activities we do the entire week before.
That's the feeling I wanted for Christmas. Not one day focused on what we were getting, but several days of focusing on the Savior, his attributes and characteristics and activities that would bond our family even that much closer.
So, I found a book called the 12 Days of Christmas by Betty Van Orden. She celebrates 12 days of Christmas with her family with a different theme each year. Some activities are to draw the family closer together, some activities are to teach service and compassion for others and some activities are to help them draw closer to the Savior. I was so excited when I found her book, that I bought her second book which is an Encore of the first book.
Now, to choose a theme for my family this year was a bit difficult. She gives many suggestions for themes, but she highly encourages you to find a theme that fits your family best.
We were sitting at our kitchen table one night for family dinner and I looked upon the empty chair that sits in front of me at every meal. This empty chair has haunted me for some time, as I have always felt that a body of another family member should be sitting there. It wasn't until recently that Brian and I ventured down the infertility road this past couple of months to only find out that we cannot have our own children. There are possible surgeries and procedures that cost thousands of dollars that may up our possibilities, but there is very little hope. The adoption outlook is very bleak also, as we have not heard anything from LDS Family Services and we do not have $24,000 to go and pick up a baby from a private agency.
So, every night, I look at the empty chair in front of me!
It hit me just recently that the theme of our 12 Days of Christmas should be "No Empty Chairs!" That even though we do have a chair in our home that will remain empty (except for the few times that Anthony will pop in), the most important part is that the 3 other chairs are always filled. We may be small in number, but we have each other and we need to always be together sitting side by side at our little family table. And so I will share with you our "No Empty Chairs 12 Days of Christmas!"
Day 1 was the day that I needed to introduce the theme, why this particular theme and what was going to happen in the days ahead. We sat down together as a family and I explained to them what I have explained to you. I then gave the family my first gift for the 12 Days of Christmas. I gave them the gift of music to bring to our family table.
Senator Orrin Hatch and Janice Kapp Perry wrote a song called "No Empty Chairs." I played the song for them and gave them the words so they could read along:
"Look around our family table, every person in his place.
Memorize this happy moment, and each familiar face.
Look around our family table, feel the love that we all share,
Life is sweet and so complete, with each loved one gathered here.
There are no empty chairs at our table, no empty feelings inside.
When all those we love are together, here side by side.
Time will fly, and all too quickly, some will leave to try their wings
Empty places at our table, will tug at our heart strings.
But the number at our table, will increase as children come
Bringing to our family table, sweet innocence and fun.
We'll add a few more chairs to our table, a lot more laughter and love
As our joy is multiplied daily, to fill our cups.
When there comes a time for parting, there will be no tears because
We will set a grander table, where all may live in love.
There we'll wait for each dear loved one, who will come to take his place,
At the feast that lasts forever, in God's eternal place.
We'll have no empty chairs at our table, no empty feelings inside,
When all those we love are together, there side by side.
May the circle not be broken, may each one return to be,
Safe within this peaceful haven, through all eternity.
We'll have not empty chairs at our table, when all are gathered above,
No more empty chairs at our table, in heaven's home of love."
After I played the song, we gathered in front of the Christmas tree and took a picture of our family all in the one empty chair.
I was going to send it out as a Christmas card, but instead, I am just going to post it here.