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Thank you for visiting our Christmas Service Blog. We welcome comments from visitors.
We would love to hear if you decide to implement this idea in your family.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Ryan!

I have loved this new Christmas tradition. It has made for a very Christ-centered season where I have been focused on showing my love for y'all through serving others rather than fighting crowds at the mall.

Ashley and I were really anxious to see who we would get. We had developed some great lists of service ideas for many of you. But, I must admit, Ryan was not one of them. Unfortunately, Ryan's list was only somewhat helpful at first, but then once I got in the spirit we did great!

His first suggestion wasn't going to work out here. Stake Dances are very rare here (none coming soon) and the YM don't go camping in December, so those two were out.

But, I began to realize I had already been helping him in a way that was related to his job-finding request. I had just recently tried to help Ryan get a job doing IT for a law group in Raleigh by e-mailing my contact with them who is a senior partner. Then when he got the offer from his new job, I called and helped coach him on how to negotiate a good offer. Even though those were great, it was clearly not enough. Sadly, I was too involved with my own job and didn't know of any jobs right off to tell my ward employment specialist.

Ryan's third suggestion to volunteer to help somebody with their home needs was right up my alley. I got an e-mail one day from a lady in the ward saying I was her home teacher (note: I had not been given a home teaching assignment from our Elder's Quorum yet) and wondering if I could help her move a fridge a few hours later. I quickly replied that I would love to and planned to finish up at work early enough to stop there on my way home.

Then, a few weeks later, one of our close friends in the ward (and our hometeacher) called to see if I could help him move his new treadmill into his house. This may sound small, but it was probably the most difficult of anything I did for Ryan's gift of service. It had been raining all day (wettest November in Richmond history) and the family had to tear up their yard to fix their septic tank. Sure enough, the treadmill would only fit through the lower door that required walking through 25 feet of mud partially covered by a few pieces of plywood while it was raining. The company was supposed to deliver it inside the house, but it was quite clear why the delivery man told the wife it would be an easy move with 2 people. It was a hefty job lifting a 500-pound box off a pallet, through the mud, and into the house. At one point, I slipped and fell with the box on top of my legs. As I laid in a huge puddle with a 500-pound box pushing my legs into the mud, I looked up at the clouds, smiled, and thought "Merry Christmas Ryan." Even so, it was a fun one to do because I was helping the man who had helped me move two huge pianos for an entire afternoon just a month earlier.

I still felt like I had not done enough for Ryan. When I sat and thought, "What would Ryan want?" I knew that part of what makes Ryan such a wonderful addition to our family is how much he has always put others before himself. Even when he was a teenager, we knew that about Ryan. Char may love "Ashley woo-hoo!", but Ryan is my woo-hoo in-law simply for the wonderful man (even when he was a 15 year old) he has always been to my baby sister. So, I decided Ryan would probably appreciate me helping out by doing some of the things requested by the rest of you.

This made sense to both Ashley and I, since we were already trying to help each other out with their person. So, during this Christmas of service, we found ourselves saying, "This one's for _______" every time we went out of my way to do something nice.

In the spirit of Bill: Every time I went through a busy door way, I was sure to stay there an extra moment and try to help two more people than I normally would have. A few times, Ashley seemed to realize what I was doing and smiled in support.

In the spirit of Wayne and Hock: We made an extra effort to offer on three different occasions to feed the missionaries or go to appointments with them in the name of Wayne and Hock. (At first, I thought this was one of Ryan's suggestions too.) Although they haven't taken us up on our three different offers yet, they say they will very soon. I also went out of my way to be more bold in sharing our beliefs. My boss, who is a wonderful example of Christian living, and I had some great discussions about our beliefs. I invited him to join our family at the Miracle of Christmas (an awesome live nativity) at the Metro Richmond Zoo (owned by an LDS family in our stake). My boss and his wife have annual passes to the Zoo and planned to go anyway, but it was fun to do it together and share our common beliefs in the Lord.

In the spirit of Char (actually Savvy): I found myself going out of my way to be extra kind and helpful to every African-American mother I saw. When they clearly had their hands full with difficult young kids, I was especially proud to help cheer their kids up or help them in any way.

In the spirit of Dad, Mom, and Amy: We made sure that we were the last ones to leave the Ward Christmas Party after helping put away tables and chairs, then mop and vacuum the floors. (This is a cheating one because we already do this since we have had activities callings before.)

In the spirit of Mitzi and Tiffany: I went to Disneyland! Just kidding. The mother of one of our close couple friends is really stressed with the Christmas season combined with some difficult financial circumstances. When Mit and Tiffany wrote that they wanted us to offer to watch a mother's kids so she could do something by herself, I thought of this woman who has been so kind to help us. Ashley and I talked about it and made it a priority to watch her kids so she could have alone time. Ashley ended up doing the work, but I kept pushing her to offer to help in any way possible.

In the spirit of Lani and Amy: Last week, when we were out in the historic snow storm, we came upon a woman stuck in a car spinning her tires. Without thinking, I stopped the car, told Ashley to follow me, and set out to push the woman's car up the hill to the next exit. As I pushed her nearly 1/2 mile up a snowy hill, I smiled thinking that hopefully somebody would do the same for my sisters if they were stuck in the snow (Ashley accidentally jumped the gun and blogged about this one already).

I am sure that all of you had similar experiences during this season of service. We all had ideas for each other and went ahead and did them even though Carrie didn't draw that particular name out for you. So Ryan, even though we only did a couple things directly in your name, we actually did it all with you in mind, because you do so much for our family.

The season of service has made this Christmas a very spiritual time in our family. After Thanksgiving, we began reading the New Testament to the girls to get prepared for Christmas. We have acted out the story of the birth of Christ too many times to count, with Ashley's five nativity sets, then in person with Nana's costumes, and then watched it live at the Metro Richmond Zoo. This season of service has made this Christmas so focused on Christ, that when we went to see Santa on Christmas Eve day, we realized we had never discussed with Lucy who Santa is and what he does. That was when I knew this season of service was the best Christmas gift ever!


  1. Chuck, thank you so much for your service in my honor. You came up with some wonderful service projects and I am very grateful.

  2. Chuck, very nice post. You have inspired me to focus on Christ just a little bit more next year. I just leaned over to Connor and asked why we celebrate Christmas and Tara yelled out that Santa ate all the cookies. Not necessarily the answer I was looking for. Maybe it makes sense to go through the nativity 15-16x.

    On another note, I am a little upset that I am the only one that you did not do service "in the spirit of". Does that just mean I am a bah humbug and I don't do any service, c'mon, I bought a cow's butt!

  3. I am so sorry. I didn't realize that I put everybody but you. Here are some for you to choose from.

    In the spirit of Mike: I rooted for BYU in their bowl game against a Pac-10 team. I listened to "Christmas in Kilarney" over and over again because it is one of my new favorite Christmas songs and thought of your dad every time. And lastly, I bought beef (cow's butt) from a traveling meat salesman to support his family.

  4. So I am crying and laughing at the same time! Way to go Chuck (and Ashley).

  5. This service gift giving has been so much fun. It was fun to serve alongside Chuck.

  6. Chuck, those are great service in the name of Mike!

    Great gifts of service little brother! You are an awesome example to all of us.

  8. I am so thankful that my only name sake has far surpassed me in his service to all. I have always said that I married above myself and I can see that chuck has followed my leed. Thank you for carrying on our Gates name so well.

  9. Chuck thanks for the service you did while thinking of me in Ryan's name. I have to say after I read your acts of service I felt a little guilty that I didn't do more. I mean I only did it for one person, and not for anywhere close to the length of time that you did for yours.

    Carrying a treadmill through the mud sounds pretty hard core.

  10. Chuck, this one was awesome. It is so neat that you really took the time to think of everyone! I had a hard enough time thinking of something for ONE person! btw, when Ashley "leaked" the pushing the car in the snow- I thought it was WAY cute! I thought, "man, my brother is a stud to just do that out of the goodness of his heart". Now knowing even more about it- it makes it even better knowing you did it with me in mind.

  11. You were right Chuck to want to be at the top for Christmas morning! YOu had a wonderful post with so many great things! THanks for being such a great big brother who was always an example to me.