We pulled the Christmas boxes out of the attic this week. As my daughter and I set up our tree (2nd year to have a fake tree, but we compensated for the lack of a fresh smell with a new yummy smelling candle!), my mind went back to the last 10 years of a tradition that happened every year in our home.

Ten years ago we moved into what we thought was the perfect neighborhood. And perfect it was because amazing, supportive neighbors surrounded us. Jean showed up right away with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to welcome us! Little did I know on that fall day that she and her husband Jack would be a “mainstay” in our family’s life for a decade!

Jean practiced hospitality. She taught me much about giving. She and Jack gave to our family when Abby was born, when I lost my Mom to cancer, when Paul lost both parents, in celebrations and in our kid’s activities. Jack would come over and sit with the kids if we got in a bind. We borrowed their folding tables and chairs, and Jack loaned almost every tool possible to Paul. Jack helped us with projects, car problems, and dead batteries. Our kids loved getting “king-sized” candy bars from them at Halloween and visiting their home often as Jack would send them home with baggies of Peanut M&Ms. We were also the recipient of home-made English muffins with orange-butter, fudge and Jean’s famous cheese-balls.

Our greatest memory of all was every Christmas when Jack and Jean would bring over beautifully wrapped packages for our kids. They would rip the packages open to find the most unique, creative Christmas ornaments. Sometimes personalized with their name or the year. For 10 years we added to our tree.

As Abby and I opened up the Christmas boxes this year, we noticed broken bulbs crushed at the bottom of the musty smelling boxes. But we dug deeper to find the “boxes” of ornaments from Jack and Jean. As we pulled them out, each one brought back a memory that is unique only to our family.

We lost our friend Jack this year. He lived a full life and it touched Paul and me when our ten-year-old daughter asked to play her violin at his Memorial, even though we were out of town. She was brave to play in front of so many people, but she did it out of her love for Jack. He was like a Grandpa to her.

Last night we finished decorating. I sat in the living room this morning enjoying my coffee and soaking in the beauty and memories surrounding our family tree.

I was reminded once again of the true gift of GIVING that Jack and Jean taught our family.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.