“Camille, I’m going to teach you everything I know about Christmas tree illumination”. The instant those words came out of my mouth I cringed, knowing I had just accidentally paraphrased Chevy Chase from Christmas Vacation. And as silly as the moment was, I realized I was picking up where my parents left off, recreating the Christmas legacy they had created for me as a child. Memories of testing every little light bulb on the string with dad to find the one that was keeping the whole string from working came to mind as I showed my daughter how to light the tree just like dad would have.
This legacy of family memories and traditions is one of the things that makes the season of advent so magical and sets the stage for what the Christmas season means and feels like to your family.
That’s why a few years ago, my husband and I decided to change the legacy of our Christmas.
Rather than investing in yet another thing my family didn’t need in the first place, I made a donation in honor of my parents and in-laws to this ministry I had heard about from my church. I bought two bunk beds for four orphans who I would never see or know in Kampala, Uganda. That’s how my involvement with Sweet Sleep began. The folks at Sweet Sleep – whom I didn’t know – sent a beautiful Christmas card and a DVD with a short video of the Sweet Sleep story. I previewed the video, and suddenly, the tiny team that kept Sweet Sleep going and the children in a foreign land who would be getting the beds I had just provided were no longer faceless nor nameless.
That changed everything!
I remember being very proud of my out-of-the-ordinary Christmas gift that I had neatly wrapped and put under the tree. As the family watched the Sweet Sleep video, I was like a child proudly showing off my first dance recital recording. I remember hushing the commotion of the people in the room so they wouldn’t miss a second of the video that had absolutely captured my heart.
That Christmas seven years ago changed my life.
It also changed the legacy of my family. I was a stay at home mom with no missions experience, raising tiny children who were 1, 3, and 5 years old. Now, my family truly lives a missional life, built on the foundational understanding that we can help make the world a better place. And I have the thrill of being a part of a ministry that has radically changed the stories of more than 22,000 children.
Sweet Sleep still sends a beautiful card and a DVD full of amazing and gripping videos that showcase the stories of the children who receive our beds when a donation is made in honor of a loved one during Give the Gift at Sweet Sleep. Every time I watch the videos, I’m humbled knowing I was there and those children are real. They aren’t nameless or faceless to me anymore. I’m so thankful for giving the gift that changed my legacy