Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Chat with Shelli Gardner

Last night we, as demonstrators, had the opportunity to listen to a conference call with Shelli Gardner, co-founder and CEO of Stampin' Up!. She talked a bit about the company, mentioning how stable it is-even in these stressful economic times. Stampin' Up! is a debt free company and is going to be fine!

Let me rewind a bit, before the call, Stampin' Up! asked demonstrators who planned on listening in to the call, to submit one of their traditions. A few of the traditions would be selected to be read in the call. Well, growing up we had a unique tradition that I wanted to share-so I submitted my "story".

Well, at the end of the conference call, Shelli and the two other presenters shared a tradition of theirs. Shelli's was a fun story about Christmas Eve dinner centered around the neighbor goodies that were brought through out the month as gifts. Cori shared how they would drive around and look at all the lights then eat dinner at Burger King - every year! Pam shared how they make yummy Mexican dinner on Christmas Eve and a fabulous sounding German dinner the next morning.

Well, I was tickled when my tradition was chosen as the first one to be read (out of a stack of emails Shelli said was 1/4 inch thick!). I will share what I wrote in a moment. The other stories were kind of fun too. One gal wrote how she give her daughter a Christmas book every year from the time she was a baby and how her daughter was now being deployed to Afghanistan and how she hoped the Book would this year help her find some normalcy. Another shared how they stay in PJ's all day on New Year's Day. One talked about how when their children were young they started only receiving 3 gifts at Christmas-just like Jesus did. She talked about how it helps them stay on budget and now as older kids, they don't expect more than that.

Anyway, here is my tradition. I hope you enjoy it!

As many others, I grew up with several traditions, e
verything from making/decorating the special recipe Christmas Cookies, to Caroling, and the annual extended family Christmas party with Santa. But, the one tradition that meant the most to me, even while young, was our manger.

Mom made a manger, about 6 inches long and 4 inches or so high. It was nothing fancy, just made with a few twigs from the backyard and some hot glue. It sat on our piano, next to it was a box full of straw. Every time we,the children, were "caught" doing a good deed during the month of December, Mom would tell us to "Go put a straw in the manger". We were always so eager,as young children, try to get a straw and would often pick out the biggest, fattest pieces first in an effort to fill the manger faster! So, good deed by good deed the manger would fill straw by straw. On Christmas eve, along with placing out the stockings and cookies and milk, we would place the Manger in the middle of the living room floor in front of the tree. Then, as we went to bed, I always hoped there was enough straw in the cradle to make a nice bed for Jesus to be "born". On Christmas morning, as we eagerly ran into the room to see the gifts from Santa, the first thing we had to do was check the Manger. Then we as a family would sit in a circle around the manger holding a sweet Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, and Dad would say a prayer of thanksgiving, and only after that could we dig into the presents.
I do, however, remember one year, when we were teenagers, that the straw was thin in the manger, and hence, Jesus wasn't born. We still had our prayer of thanksgiving, albeit around an empty manger, but it was a very solemn Christmas. There were lots of presents to open, but, that Christmas morning had a totally different feel from any of the others, a feeling I can still remember today. It really made an impact on me, it was then that I REALLY realized and understood that Christmas wasn't all about the presents that WE give, but it's about the greatest gift of all that was GIVEN TO US, and how empty my life would be without that wonderful gift.
I have always wanted to continue the tradition with my children, but had never gotten around to building the manger. This year, my mother passed down to me her manger and Baby Jesus. So now, my manger and jar of straw sit on my piano, next to my Count Down Till Christmas advent calendar, and my children ages 10, 9, 7 are loving the new tradition. And, as odd as it may sound, I sincerely hope that one year, when they are all old enough to understand, they get the opportunity to NOT have Jesus born.
Merry Christmas!


Candice Anderson said...

Deborah, What a beautiful Christmas Tradition. How wonderful that you can share it with your children. I agree that sometimes we need things to not work out the way we expected so we can hav a little wake up call. Thanks so much for sharing your tradition with us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. Candice

Rhonda Shurtleff said...

What a wonderful story & tradition! I might have to give it a try too.

Megan said...

What a great tradition! How fun to be able to share it with your family now. :) Thanks for sharing, and how exciting to have your tradition picked to be shared! :)