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A Season of Giving

My family has a tradition on Christmas Eve.  Actually we have several.  We have a giant party with friends and after dinner and dessert the children act out the Nativity while we read from Luke Chapter 2 and sing the Christmas carols that go along with the story.  Among them, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Hark the Harold Angels Sing, and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it!  When the guests have all left and the clutter cleared away, our children put out their stockings and their cookies for Santa and carrots for Rudolph.  They change into the new pajamas given by Grandma and we gather around and listen while Dad reads The Night Before Christmas.

Four years ago Auntie Amy {Jake’s sister is Amy too… isn’t that cool?) gave our family the book A Christmas Dress for Ellen.  Its a beautiful story about a family living in Alberta, Canada in 1927.  Their Christmas was to be far from merry, until an amazing Christmas miracle brought joy to their lives.  It’s a classic tale of Christmas sacrifice and service.  Jake read the book to us for the first time Christmas Eve of 2006.  And he cried.  We all did.  It’s become a tradition to read it aloud each Christmas Eve before we go to bed.  And I cry every year.  Last year I determined that I would read the book earlier and I would use the inspiration to turn my heart and those of my family toward Christ and the true meaning of the season.  I’d like to quote the last page of the book:

“From a beloved Christmas hymn we recall these lines:

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

May all of us welcome the Savior of the world into our hearts and into our Christmas celebrations.  May we experience the joy of setting aside convenience and personal comfort, if need be, in favor of Christian service. Then may we learn, as did an ancient prophet, that when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are truly in the service of our God.”

Tonight while Jake and I talked via Skype, he reminded me to read A Christmas Dress for Ellen to our children.  And I did.  And I cried.

While we may not all share religious beliefs, I believe that this season is a season of giving.  A season of helping others.  A season of service. I hope we can all find common ground in that belief.

Here are the details:

I’ve been inspired by the season and I’m following in the footsteps of several photographers that I love and admire.  I would like to offer a photo session (free of charge) to a deserving family.  I’m not sure who that family is.  I’m hoping you might have a suggestion for me!

You may know someone who could really use some cheering up.  Someone who has had a rough year.  Perhaps there is someone who can’t afford  to purchase a photo session on their own.  Maybe they’ve never had pictures done and you think it’s about time.  You tell me.

I’d love to hear your suggestions!  Please send me an email to and tell me about a family you think would love to have a family photo session as a Christmas gift.  Tell me why you are suggesting them.  Help me make a decision. I’m sure I’ll wish that I could give each and every family a session, but I’ll try to choose one that stands out from your emails.  Be sure to send me their name and contact information (email/phone).

I’ll accept emails until December 23rd and notify the family that I’ve selected on Christmas Day.  However small, I hope to spread a little cheer in this wondrous season and I’m looking forward to your help!

Amy | Simply b Photos

December 10, 2010 - 11:54 am

Becky Dustin - I have goosebumps…of course you would do this. I cannot wait to hear about the wonderful family you will be blessing. I’ve thought of ordering that book so many times…now I’m going to do it. Thanks for sharing your traditions.

December 10, 2010 - 1:41 pm

Emily - This is such a heart-warming idea and post and funny thing: I was just in the middle of sending out an email asking some friends what their christmas eve/season traditions are in hopes of adding to our own (which isn’t much at the moment!). I want the kids to have good, warm, lovely memories of their childhood and christmas ones seem to be some of the most lasting. I can’t wait to see who you choose!

December 10, 2010 - 2:18 pm

amanda - I love that book. Years ago my visiting teachers gave it to me and it has been a tradition for us as well. I need to pull it out. Sadly, I had forgotten all about it til this moment.

You inspire me in so many ways. You will never know how much having you as my sister influences and changes my life on a regular basis.

I love you,

December 10, 2010 - 10:17 pm

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Christmas Giveaway | Family Photo Session » SimplyB Photos - […] day! I’ve been reviewing all the nominations I was sent for the free family photo session. {Click here for more information.} I’ve been brought to tears by your beautiful words. I’m humbled by the love that you […]

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