Many military members are spending Christmas without their families. Maybe they’re spending it at a desk, with other military members or a family that was kind enough to welcome them into their home. But nothing is like hugging your spouse, kids, mom, dad, and best friends. Nothing is like sharing stories with family and laughing with one another.
Military families sometimes have to spend their Christmases without grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts. As the huge family gathering takes place in Pennsylvania, the military family has to stay put in Oklahoma. I remember as a military brat spending many Christmases with just my parents and brother. It made us a tight family, but I did lose out on creating a bond with cousins and aunts. I’m still trying to figure out how to ensure my son creates special relationships with his relatives. Maybe technology will really benefit us.
In Amanda Truelove’s situation, her church, Grace Fellowship Church, came to her side.
Every Sunday in November, Pastor Jason asked the church to fill out a card letting him know what would make their Christmas magical.
“She filled out the front and back of the card with such detail,” said Pastor Jason. “We were hoping to get something pretty outlandish to push us to our limits.”
“It wasn’t a matter of if we should do it or not, it was how can we make this happen? We were dealing with different schedules- work schedules and flight schedules,” Pastor Jason explained.
Throughout the month of December, Grace made a lot of wishes come true. They took moms shopping, gave teenagers gift cards, and brought family members home.
Amanda’s father, Pop Pop (real name Conrad), was supposed to land in Lawton, Ok on the evening of Saturday, December 17, but he did not make his connecting flight from Dallas to Lawton. Pastor Jason and the Grace team were unsure if Pop Pop was going to make his surprise debut at Sunday’s 10 a.m. service. The next flight to Lawton was after Sunday’s service.
“I’ll drive to Lawton if I have to,” Pop Pop determinedly told Pastor Jason.
Pop Pop woke up at 4 a.m. on Sunday and drove from Dallas to Lawton.
During the 9 a.m. church service, Pastor Jason received a text message, “Pop Pop is here.”
A team of five creative ladies built a pirate ship out of wood that looked identical to Amanda’s drawing and had a Santa suit waiting for Pop Pop when he arrived. By the 10 a.m. service, Pop Pop was dressed and in the pirate ship.
Pastor Jason called Amanda to the stage as she carried her 1 year old daughter, Adelaide. She thought she was going to make an announcement to the congregation, but soon the church doors opened and Santa in a pirate ship came down the aisle. Amanda looked shocked but wasn’t giving the reaction Pastor Jason expected.
“Do you have any idea who that can be?” Pastor Jason asked Amanda.
That’s when Amanda realized it was Pop Pop and cried as she hugged him.
“They gave us the pirate flag and Adelaide keeps saying, ‘Pirate ship, Santa, Pop Pop ,’” Amanda said.
It was a heartwarming scene to witness. The Grace team went all out to make sure Amanda and her family had a magical Christmas.
“I am still in shock but so so thankful. Watching Adelaide with her Grandma and Pop Pop has been amazing,” said Amanda.