Last year, my family and I were donation recipients of the Adopt a Family program that Morinville Marvelous Moms organizes. The donations last year changed Christmas for us – it has always been a time of very high stress. My husband works as a roofer, so usually doesn’t have much income in winter. I am a student doing online university at home, so I bring in a bit of income from student loans. We have three daughters aged 9, 6, and 4 to provide for. Adding Christmas on top of all the regular expenses is beyond challenging.

Last year was different – instead of worrying about whether we could afford to purchase a turkey for Christmas dinner, there were fixings already in the freezer and pantry courtesy of MMM Adopt a Family. Instead of stressing about whether the stockings would get filled, we got to watch our daughters’ faces light up as they dove into the stockings provided by MMM Adopt A Family. On Christmas morning, the wonder and delight on the girls’ faces as they ripped the wrapping off of the gifts was indescribable. And the week after – when kids meet up and tell each other about what they got for Christmas – for once, my kids had gifts comparable to their friends and instead of being quiet and envious, they were excited, joyful, and bragging just like the other kids. My husband and I shed many tears of joy last Christmas.

Christmas is a busy and stressful time of year for any family, the many activities – concerts, work parties, family gatherings, community events, various gift exchanges, and taking the kids to sit on Santa or to see the Christmas lights – can be overwhelming as it is. The thing is, it’s worth it!

Because what you get back is something that can’t be bought – that moment when a kid hogged the microphone at the concert, the confusion on Santa’s face as your child attempts to explain what they want for Christmas, the feeling of community togetherness during the countdown to lighting up the park downtown, and the magic in the air on Christmas Eve when the house is dark and quiet with only the tree lights twinkling.

However, financial stress can change these moments. You worry constantly about any unexpected expenses cropping up, make list after list trying to stretch the budget and squeeze things into it, feel depressed when you go shopping, stress about having enough gas in the car for the Candy Cane Lane drive. You can get lost in the stress, and miss those special moments because your brain was too busy with worrying about money.

When your daughter gets on stage at the concert, you notice that she is the only girl in runners – because her dress shoes didn’t fit anymore, a new (to her) pair wouldn’t fit in this months budget, and despite numerous phone calls you could not find a pair to borrow. By the time that you manage to shift your focus from your stress, the performance is nearly over and you are frowning, not just from worrying, but also because you let the stress take that moment. The beginning of the Light Up The Night countdown reminds you that you only have 10 dollars for gas and that gas has to last for the week, so the Christmas light tour will have to be a short one. The lights switch on, and you discover that you did the countdown on autopilot while worrying. The magic of Christmas Eve is lost when you stand back and look at the tree, then bend back down to rearrange the gifts so that it looks like there are more than what’s actually there.

Last year, my daughters all had dress shoes on for the concert, because MMM Adopt a Family provided groceries for Christmas dinner and more, giving us budget room for shoes. Last year, we spent nearly a hour cruising through town gazing at the lights, because MMM Adopt a Family provided gifts for the girls, making more room in the budget for fuel. I actually had to rearrange the gifts so that they didn’t take up so much space! My husband and I never buy each other Christmas gifts, but last year we had the pleasure of opening gifts that were not from our girls, but from MMM Adopt a Family. Last year, I shed tears of joy instead of crying due to stress and depression.

The MMM Adopt a Family program gave us Christmas. It was so much more than gifts and groceries. They gave us the chance to enjoy those priceless moments without worrying about the prices that surround them. I noticed the kids that hogged the microphone at last year’s concert, and smiled, and enjoyed…

A simple Thank You cannot begin to convey the gratitude that my husband and I feel, but there are no better words. Thank You to all MMM Adopt a Family donors. I hope that this letter helps to show you how your kindness and generosity can affect the recipients of your donations in ways beyond what you may imagine.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Name withheld at writer’s request

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