Military Mama: Simply celebrating

By Jade Stone

I hope this finds your holiday season running smoothly. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like every year it becomes more and more stressful. But this year, I was inspired to do something different.

A few months ago, my worship team leader at church came to me and asked me to play a specific role in a drama that would happen on December 18th. This is not unusual since I do a lot of the dramas at church but this part was different. He asked me to play the role of an autistic woman named Grace.

The ironic part of this story is that my stepmom’s twin sister is autistic and her name was Grace. Certainly she was my inspiration. This had to be one of the most difficult parts I’ve ever had to play because there is a fine line between mockery and portrayal. I wanted nothing more than to honor the innocence and honesty that made Grace the amazing person she was.

I worked hard to make sure the character truly came through and when the time came to perform the role, Grace took the stage and the hearts of the crowd as well. In this story, Grace is a young woman whose mother died last Christmas. She tells us about her family tradition of placing the manger under the tree because Jesus was their gift and singing “silent night” because she loves to sing.

She talked about the little things that Santa would bring like books, pantyhose, and apples with such innocence and contentment that it was obvious she didn’t feel the need for anything more. Grace tells the story about her “mama” to a stranger on a park bench who is in a holiday shopping frenzy.

This stranger tried her best to ignore Grace, but Grace’s openness was infectious. I found myself so engulfed in the sweetness of this character and her understanding of the true meaning of Christmas that I actually felt her emotions as she spoke about losing her mother but knowing it was ok because she was with Jesus. Talk about a wake-up call. That role changed my family’s outlook on the holiday and how we celebrate it.

We sat down and took a look at the things we do every year and then determined if they were things we did because they brought us joy or if it was stuff we did because it was expected. For example, Christmas Eve is finger foods and games at our house and it is one of my favorite things to do with friends and family so we kept that.

But Christmas cards, and gifts for people other than family we decided was something we did because it’s a “Christmas expectation” so instead we are opting for a “Happy New Year” letter just to fill everyone in on our ever-changing lives and gave folks homemade goodies that don’t cost much, never collect dust, and are always well received.

We also decided that gifts this year would be about the heart and not about the latest fad. We didn’t spend nearly as much and we had the best time. For example, my 6-year-old told me on several different occasions that he wanted his own glass. Now, as odd as that was for a 6-year-old to request, we chose to honor it.

So my husband and I went out Friday night for dinner and began the search for the perfect “glass”. We had so much fun looking for just the right one for Jess that we decided to do this every year as our Christmas tradition so that when Jess goes out on his own, he will have his own eclectic set of special glasses to take with him.

I know, it sounds silly, but we had a ball and Jess was tickled to death to have his very own special “glass”.  We opted for a Tervis Tumbler with a hog patch inside this year just because the idea of handing a small child an actual glass didn’t seem very intelligent.

All in all, it has been one of my favorite Christmases so far. Less stress, cheaper, and far more enjoyable and isn’t that how it’s supposed to be anyway? I’m reminded of that Christmas that Jay spent in Iraq and how hard it was to spend it away from him. That year was very different. I worked so hard to make sure I sent him all the comforts of home in a care package so he would at least be able to enjoy a few of the wonderful things that make Christmas so enjoyable.

I made him a stocking out of camo material and stuffed it with his favorite candies, gum and a video tape. I simply taped myself talking to him in front of the tree while I wrapped presents as if it were Christmas Eve.

I was going through the Christmas boxes a few weeks ago and found that old stocking and tape. I told Jay about it and he told me that was one of his most treasured gifts he’d ever received.  It really isn’t about the gifts so much as it is about the heart. I guess I managed to give him just exactly what his heart wanted and needed that day in a cold unfriendly dessert.

I hope your Christmas and New Year is everything you hoped it would be and if it’s not, make a change.  I promise you won’t regret it! Happy New Year!

Jade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.