Our lives are a multitude of stories. Some are sad tales, some are filled with stomach wrenching laughter, and some are family legends that grow more epic each time they’re told. Join me this week as we curl up in our favorite spot in our virtual living room. The tree casting a twinkling glow. Hot chocolate, eggnog, and cookies sit in our laps. Our friends & family sit with us as we laugh, rejoice, & begin to share our tales of Christmas.
I know it’s coming when I call home and I hear the clanging of pots and pans in the background.
“You guys baking?”
My mom goes silent for half a second and laughs. “Yes.”
My dad, most likely at the stove stirring chocolate sauce or cutting shapes out of cookie dough, calls out from behind her…
“We’ve been baking since yesterday morning.” It’s now my turn to laugh as I think about the piles of cookies on the kitchen table, the flour on every inch of countertop, and my brother stealing Hershey’s kisses out of the bowl.
This is all common place, and I can synchronize my calendar on the events. It’s Christmas, which only means one thing in the Jacobson household.
Cookie Run Season.
We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember – maybe ten, fifteen years. [and that right there makes me feel really old.]
It started small: a few friends, family members, and our pastor. We usually left the house around 7:00pm and were home by 10:00. Over the years, it got more elaborate. Our list grew. Not only were we delivering to my parents’ friends, but my friends. And then when Blanche and Christina got old enough, we began delivering totheir friends. Which, normally? Wouldn’t be that bad – but there’s a secret about private schools most people don’t realize.
Your friends can live anywhere – not just your neighborhood….not even your district.
We had to push back times of departure because it was just taking too long. My dad, organizer that he is, would start working on google maps weeks ahead of time, charting the most gas-efficient and sanity keeping route.
Sometimes…we would be in the car long enough to drive to Oklahoma.
We eventually added in our own traditions within this night of cookies extravaganza. We’d make up games like “How many Christmas parties are we going to interrupt this year?” or “Who can give the best hint for dinner choices?” or my personal favorite, “How long will mama be talking to this person?”
There were years where stomach bugs hit the Jacobson clan, and so the cookie run was cut short.
There were years where the list was so long, dad cursed the idea the entire time only to celebrate our victorious delivery during dinner at the local Mexican joint.
There were years where, after two days of a diet of entire sugar, we all bit our lips to keep from throwing up on the winding roads of the hill country. [Russ likes to correct me here. He likes to describe it as not “winding” but speeding down roads at elevations not necessarily welcomed by even those with the strongest intestinal fortitude]
There were years where my sisters and I drove my brother and father crazy with our giggles. We couldn’t help it. Locked in a car, for hours on end with nothing but Christmas music to listen to…you’re gonna get a little silly. And many of our inside jokes originated in some way during these mini-roadtrips.
We aren’t the only people who have experienced the joy of cookie runs. Both men married into the family have experienced the trial by fire of Jacobson’s cookie run. [There’s been others who didn’t fair so well.] They’ve ridden the entire time, eyes wide and mouth ajar, only to look into our eyes afterwards with I’m sure a better understanding of our background. My friends in college heard about these nights all four years – and by the time I graduated – it had become a bit of a campus folktale. It’s the one thing that pops into my head when people ask me about holiday traditions – outside of grandma’s singing bird perched delicately in her Christmas tree.
As crazy as it sounds, and as much merriment and insanity and disorganization goes into one of these events with my family, it’s the one thing I miss the most.
I haven’t been able to be at the last few cookie runs. This year I’m missing it by a thread of previous engagements. I’ll be thinking of them, though. I’ll giggle at the texts my sisters and brother send me. I’ll remember serious discussions my father led while driving through the night roads. I’ll remember my mom’s look of absolute radiance with her entire family in the car – singing, laughing, talking…
And the entire time, I’ll be thinking of future traditions my own family will begin – the stories that will birth out of repetition and clockwork. The stories of home.
Elora is a story teller at heart and DNA. She is the wife of Russ. Her heart longs to see the end of the plight of the orphan and to bring freedom to the slave. You can check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.
On Friday, Dec. 24th, we will have a link up for all of us to share our Christmas stories, and I’ll have a giveaway.
Sometimes all we can do is walk. To put one weary step in front of the other. Trusting God all the while we experience pain, suffering, loneliness, abandonment, etc.
My dear friend Elora is hosting a month guest bloggers sharing their stories of playing in the pain. A series born out of this post. Today I’m sharing my story.
You can read it by clicking here.
I think Elora and I are sisters from different mothers. We share the same heart for those far from God, those in poverty and orphaned. I’m not sure when or how we connected – I think she commented on my blog & then I checked her’s out and never left. We text, we email, we twitter. We almost met in real life a few weeks ago until some other things happened :(. One day we will meet, New Mexico cannot stand in our way. 😉 Elora’s blog. Elora’s twitter.
Sometimes, when I’m talking to other people, I hear how crazy it sounds. I see the questions in their eyes. You have friends….online? And I get it. I get the ridiculous bent of their eyebrows as they fight laughing at me.
But I also get they just don’t understand.
The truth: My husband & I are part of a community of believers where even though we have never met in person, if at any point a need arose, we’d be there in a heartbeat.
Why? Because we’ve experienced the unquestionable generosity of these friends more than once.
Last year, Russ & I went through a period of time where everything around us was going haywire. Without any warning, we found ourselves in a state of limbo where spiritually we knew what God wanted of us, but physically? We just didn’t see any way. And then Russ wrote this post. He didn’t write it in order to spark a catalyst of compassion on our behalf. He wrote it out of honesty and conviction.
Within 24 hours, our community of friends gathered around us and began to support us through this difficult time.
Our friend Dave Ingland, whom we met on twitter earlier in the year through Idea Camp, posted a challenge on his blog – asking for prayer & support on our behalf. We didn’t even realize what was going on and before we knew it, we were receiving text messages, DM’s, and @reply’s from people all over the US letting us know we were in their prayers. Later that week a donation was sent to our paypal with the exact amount we would need for bills. We never even asked – never even considered praying for God to do something. We knew we were in a place where faith was essential, but the thought of people online coming to our aid just didn’t cross our mind. But God’s provision didn’t stop there.
Later that month, a friend we knew through Invisible Children who read Russ’ post sent us the cash she found in her purse. The day we got her letter in the mail, we spent the last of our cash buying prescriptions at the pharmacy. Opening the letter and finding the exact amount we just spent was one of the richest moments of our marriage. I remember reading her words of encouragement and feeling God’s presence – hearing Him whisper, “I’m here. Keep going.”
And we did.
Russ & I knew before this the power of online community. We knew, through events like The Rescue, what can happen when people join together and use social media for good. We never experienced it personally though – and at such a neck-breaking velocity. Suddenly, we looked at eachother and realized, “oh. so this is community. This is what it looks like to give so someone else can have…”
Since the spring, we’ve grown considerably. Not only has God revealed to us the power of online community, He’s blessed us with an incredible in-house group of friends who challenge and walk hand-in-hand with us daily. As I’m writing this, I’m texting my friends, planning a pancake supper with one of our kids & his mama and tweeting at people from across the country – encouraging them in what they learned at church. Never before has the church had this capability to connect at such a constant level. It’s exciting.
When we came back from Africa this past summer, my heart suffered for weeks. I mean, there were things I experienced I probably won’t ever find words for – and it showed. My blogs frequented the topic and danced around the trip, trying to find the perfect way to describe the change in my heart. My tweets revealed my struggle with culture shock – the discrepancy between our excess and their need – it was just too much. And while I was at home, it was bearable. I knew I could call one of my friends who understood and we could go grab coffee. But then I left town for a teachers’ conference…and where those around me wouldn’t understand because they weren’t there – my friends online stood in the gap. Not a day went by without an e-mail or DM or personal card (thanks, Prudy) encouraging me and lifting me in prayer. Processing a trip is difficult enough with other people – but it’s absolutely impossible doing it on your own. Without my friends coming together and praying for me, I’m not sure how I would have made it through that week.
I know there may be a few people who won’t ever understand our relationship with these people we’ve never met. I know we still may receive odd looks when we share the latest story of someone who we’ve been connected with through twitter staying at our house. But…we’ve grown to accept the furrowed brows and shakes of the head with a grain of salt. Once these people experience the encouragement, prayer, support and genuine concern we’ve experienced – and once they witness the stories coming from around the country of people joining together to make a difference – then they will see the possibility.
The rest of the series:
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.