“Love is patient, Love is kind. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserves.

Love never fails.” 

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)


28TH December 2022, 4:28 am

I woke up to a very quiet morning.  Looking out the windows, I could see the glittering crystals of frost everywhere, like sparkling crushed diamonds.  The only sound was our faithful grandfather’s clock.  The rhythmic ticking always makes us feel tranquil.  It is 178 years old, 7 feet high and the heartbeat of our home.  We bought our clock 48 years ago while Abe was stationed in Germany.  To this day it has kept perfect time with never a tune-up.   We often wonder what stories lie within its woodwork; what it has witnessed in so many homes.   Now it is settled here in Texas.  I ponder at what stories the clock will hold after we change our address from Earth to Heaven.

I woke up especially early to say Happy Birthday prayers to God for our sweet grandson Kaleo.  It was his 21st  birthday.  How fast time slips by.  It seems like only yesterday he was a baby. He has three younger siblings, Kalani, Kai and Makana; each unique and amazing.  We love their spirit of life.  All four boys were born when our daughter, Morena, was serving her country at Scholfield Barracks US Army Base in Hawaii.  

When they were younger, along with our other two grandsons. Alex and Mayan would gleefully packed up their overnight bags and came to our home during the Christmas season.  They loved how our home was transformed from an ordinary home into an enchanting, whimsical wonderland inside and out. Trees decorated every room.  Nativity scenes, big and small, were everywhere.  My daughter said to me, as I was unwrapping her recent Christmas gift, “Mom you can never have too many Nativity scenes.”  Her gift was another Nativity scene.  We laughed, but this one was so detailed and so uniquely beautiful that Abe and I decided never to store it away.  

Our home has always given us warmth and comfort from the fireplaces, with their popping crackling sounds that we never tired of, along with the soft glow from our many lit candles and the sweet aromas of baking cookies, pies, cakes, and hard crust bread.  The strong spicy smells of apple cider simmering on the stove all day reached every crevice in all the rooms.  It is our happy season!

White fluffy, cuddly Christmas Teddy Bears were the draw to everyone who entered the door.  We have collected more than 100 teddies scattered all over our home: up-and-down the staircase, all around the trees, on the beds, on couches and chairs, all around the fireplaces and under the end-tables.  Visitors cannot resist picking them up and holding them tightly.  These Teddy Bears Bring a lot of love and smiles.  All of them were bought at K-Mart.  They had the date of the year they were made imprinted on the bottom of their paw.  Each one wore a colorful Christmas costume of red, green, and gold.  They brought joy and fond memories to our nieces and nephews when they were young and gathered at our home during Christmas.

I poured a cup of hot cocoa, lit all the candles, and sat down on the couch next to the white Angel Christmas tree, one of five trees decorating our home.  Each tree is named.  The Angel tree was full of angels that were tucked perfectly here and there between the branches of the white flocked pine.  The tree was filled with illuminating pearly lights to showcase every delicate ornament giving them an enchanting touch.  

Holding the Christmas mug in my hand, I felt my mind start to wonder as I prayed.  Here I am surrounded with 58 years of treasured Christmas memories, especially ornaments from Europe where we were blessed to live 11 years during Abe’s Air Force assignment. All four of our children, Hasmin, Steven, Roman and Morena, grew up with fairy tales of Christmas stories, European folk lore, and whimsical Christmases.  Every year they experienced going to the Kriskindle market with all the famous Christmas pastries and hot spiced peppermint cocoa.  They were excited to go through the white tent bazaars in Nuremberg to fill their little baskets with handmade decorations with great expectations of whether to place them on the Christmas tree at home or in their bedrooms.  Each ornament has a precious story and a unique value that only our family would appreciate.

We moved to Texas on December 21, 2019.  I put up our first tree in our new home by the front window so all the neighbors knew the Espiritu family had moved in.  We arrived at 1:30 in the cold morning hour with our big U-Haul truck.  I purposedly put the tree decorations and lights in the back of the truck so I could decorate our new empty home right away with the spirit of Christmas.  Regardless of the exhaustion we felt from the long 2 ½ day journey from San Diego, by 3:30 a.m., the pretty artificial tree was completely decorated.  We all stood around the tree holding hands.  Our daughter, four grandsons, Abe and I shared prayers of gratitude and asked God to bless our precious home and protect us in this big territory of Texas.

It wasn’t until Christmas of 2022 that we started to invite neighbors over for a “get to know you” Christmas dinner.  COVID was now a memory and we could start living life as neighbors should; getting to know one another rather then waving hello from a distance.  The guests were enthralled over all the decorations, the Christmas trees and, most especially, all the Christmas Teddy Bears.  They would choose their favorite Teddy Bear I would take a picture of them in front of the Angel tree.  They loved this photo memory that hopefully will last a lifetime.  Later, during Christmas week, our neighbors would call asking if their visiting grandchildren could come over to see the Teddy Bears and delightful decorations.  This was a spark of excitement, such an adventure and so much fun.  One young boy, 17 years old and sweet as pie, said, “It’s so cozy here. I love it.” Another 15 year old girl said, “I feel like I’m walking into a Hallmark movie.”  Before we knew it, day-by-day more little ones were visiting us.  They would choose their favorite Teddy Bear and I would take a photo or a family shot, all holding Teddy Bears.  Their faces lit up with smiles that matched the Teddy Bear’s smile.  What absolute joy these Teddy Bears gave to the children and even to the adults.

While reflecting on these precious moments, my heart filled with love and warmth as happy tears slid down my checks.  Now these new friends have a story about visiting the Espiritu home, eating cookies, cake, pumpkin pie covered with mountains of whipped cream and sipping hot cocoa with a peppermint candy cane melting inside.   The children played with the Teddy Bears, holding their favorite one as they lay on the carpet, listening to a Christmas story that I read to them.   

Here it was about 5:30 a.m., still very dark outside with only the light from the flickering candles and the soft, whimsical christmas lights giving off a warm delightful glow, making everything cozy inside.  I was overwhelmed with deep emotions while reflecting on our lifetime Christmas memories and the recent happy moments. While I was having grateful conversations with God, mixed with my fairy tale reflections of Christmas memories, Heaven opened and words poured into my heart: “Operation Teddy Bear.”  I didn’t understand.  More words came: “To put a smile and stop their tears.”  I did not hesitate, I did not question. I understood!

Our lifetime celebrations of Jesus’ birthday with family and friends, new and old, include cuddly and adorable Teddy Bears to give comfort, joy, and most of all LOVE.

We affectionately dedicate this chapter of our life to our dearest granddaughter, Rebecca, who missed most Christmas  gatherings along with her Dad, Hasmin and Mom, Rosy. She was born and raised in the most beautiful captivating city in the world, Florence Italy, while her Dad, our Son, 29 years serving his country, assisted the Consul General at the United States Consulate. They live an amazing kaleidoscope of adventures. We are grateful for this yet miss them desperately, especially during the Holy Christmas Season.

This was the birth of OPERATION TEDDY BEAR!

“As for me and my household we serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)