Our Family Christmas Book

Our mailbox is giving birth daily to Christmas cards, letters and notes that our family and friends send this time of year. For many of them, this is the only time that we hear their past years story or see that little Johnny grew 3 inches. (Shocking!).

Writing our family Christmas letter and taking our family Christmas picture was always fun for us. Maddie would squirm, Nathan would sport a cheesy smile and Makenzie would try to get them to “look nice.” Sometimes, we were in a park, sometimes, in our home, but every year’s picture captured the joy that we shared as a family … all 5 of us. Then, after the tree was down and the decorations were put away, Kellie would take that year’s Christmas letter/picture, put it in a Hallmark book and write down the memories that defined the season. It was always a joy to flip back through those pages; watching how God grew our family, year after year, remember the church services in which I played a part and reminisce about the gifts that the kids ripped into on Christmas morning. That Christmas book had become part of our family’s seasonal experience.

When Makenzie died, we moved. During the packing process, I discovered our beloved Christmas book at the bottom of a water soaked bin in the back of our garage. Pages, now mush, slopped on the floor as I pinched it’s corner and lifted it out of the stagnant water. The words “Our Family Christmas” were barely legible on the cover of the book that was now overrun by black mold. It’s yellowed pages were streaked with the unreadable ink that once held words that were our memories. Another loss and another reminder that our family was being forced to start over. I had to let it go.

If the book had survived, the page titled “Christmas, 2009” would have been empty, anyway. When death strikes your family in such a profound way, there are certain traditions, practices and habits that you put to the side; simply because you can’t go through the pretension that you are having a good time. As a result, you probably won’t get a Christmas card/picture from us in the mail this year. We just haven’t brought ourselves to take one without Makenzie. But we want you to know that while we have “Makenzie Moments” throughout the day, we are doing ok. Our joy is a bit tarnished; our happiness is not as bright, but the love of God that is displayed to us through our family and friends brings us closer to the manger of our Lord.

Keep sending your cards. Keep stuffing our mailbox. ‘Cause while we can’t respond, we love them … and we love you.



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3 thoughts on “Our Family Christmas Book

  1. Vanessa Garner says:

    Our love and thoughts are with you on this night. Know that many people are thinking of you. With love, Vanessa Garner & Family

  2. Colleen Hicks says:

    Completely understand. Although we now have more laughter and less tears, I still cannot, our 5th Christmas without Aaron, send out cards. I told you before I used to sign things with “the Hicks 6”, or “Michael, Colleen and the Fearsome 4-some”, or simply listed all our names – they just rolled off the pen. I haven’t figured out how to do that and exclude Aaron, and I think people would think I was a little weird if I included him so…..
    We had a family picture taken in November of 2004, our last with all of us. Can’t quite get the courage to go have another without him. You have so many gorgeous pictures of Makenzie, alone and with your family. That is a wonderful gift. I wish I had more…
    This will be a tough Christmas for you – they won’t ever be the same, of course – however, you have such a strong faith and each other. Hold onto both! Peace to your entire family!

  3. Chad Starfeldt says:

    Todd, WOW. What a great entry. It almost brought me to tears as it brought my heart closer into the connection of yours. I can’t imagine the first Christmas without one of my children. You will certainly understand well this year and beyond what it is like for many to go through the Christmas session without a loved one. You are now one of those families. May God use you to be an encouragement to those who struggle during this time. May God’s people encourage you as you experience your first CHRISTMAS without Makenzie. We LOVE YOU and pray for you regularly around the dinner table. We are coming to visit Woodbury Dec. 26-29, hope we can see you.


    Love, Chad Starfeldt

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