This is Declan's first Christmas away from us. Declan loves Christmas. He still gets us up at 4 in the morning to see what Santa has brought. We can't set the presents out too early because curiosity finally gets the best of him and he will eventually break down and open them and then rewrap them. I have had to resort to hiding things at friends because he finds hidden presents, even in the attic. So when I thought about Declan being away for Christmas I must admit that at first I was a little worried. How on earth would he get any excitement out of the season? How would I spoil him or make him feel special? Would he be homesick? But the more and more I thought about it the more excited I became for him to have a Christmas that centered on the real reason for the season and the opportunity for him to give of himself. The more I though about it the more I knew that he would be just as excited to serve this season as he had been to open gifts every other Christmas, and I knew it would be ok. I did, however, want to be able to send him a few things, so I decided to continue a tradition I started few years back that we call the Christmas elf. Every day in December leading up to Christmas the Christmas elf leaves my kids a little treat. I decided that I would send him a box with some treats for his companion and him to enjoy. As I started putting it together, however, I really felt strongly that what Declan would enjoy even more would be things he could share with the people he was serving there. I decided to scale my treats for him and his companion back to little ziplock bags of treats each day, and include something special that they could seek out and share with someone. It was a lot of fun to come up with some ideas and enlist the help of others to help me get creative. When I sent off the box I told Declan that the gifts were marked with which day they were to be opened and that they were only opened on that day. I also reminded him that he was a missionary so not only was Santa watching, but God was watching closely also. Well, I learned through his friend Katie that when he got his package his companion and him ended up opening ALL of the packages in one night! I guess even a mission doesn't change some things! I hope that this package has been a fun way for him to share something with others as he has been able to celebrate the birth of the Savior during the holiday season. It was fun for me to get to dedicate that much time to thinking about Declan and what he is doing, during the holiday.