The Mrs. Claus Affair

In the true spirit of Let’s Overdo It This Christmas my girlfriend and I started a little service/charity thingy earlier in the fall. We started planning it last Christmas and somehow got our act together in time for this Christmas season. We call it The Mrs. Claus Affair and it’s geared toward making sure the wives of deployed service members have something to open on Christmas morning.

See, it’s not that these women are too poor to buy a gift or that their husbands aren’t thinking of them, it’s that our service men and women who deploy usually work insane hours and their shopping opportunities are sadly limited. I have one girlfriend with five kids who took her kids to the store right before Christmas, showed them what to buy her then tried not to watch as they put it in the cart. It was a very sad Christmas for her. Add to that the fact that most of us here in Germany are an ocean away from family and you get a really tough Christmas season for some of these sweet moms.

So we decided to do a little fund raising (Christmas card mini-session photo shoot with my awesome photography girlfriends Geneva and Sharma) and started our own home grown project. We made enough money to properly spoil about 20 girls and have been taking nominations the past few weeks. We plan to drop off personalized gifts to go under the tree–to be opened on Christmas morning.

Today was Shopping Day 3. Honestly, this whole thing has been one more project I probably didn’t need on my plate. Both Rebecca and I have been so busy it’s been a last minute scramble to make sure all our ducks were accounted for and we were ready to roll by this coming weekend.

Two months ago I ran into a mom during June’s dance class and found out her husband was deployed. She’s pregnant with her fourth kid and in her frazzled state it was clear that she’s spent. She didn’t have her phone number handy (few people here take the time memorize their 426 digit numbers) but took mine and promised to text me her contact information. It never came and I’ve been thinking about her ever since. Yesterday I tried to find her last name to see if we could still add her to the list but everything came up blank.

As Rebecca and I wound our way through the aisles at the BX trying to put together unique and delightful packages for the girls on our list I saw a familiar red head turn a corner a few rows up. It’s no surprise that there she was, my mystery mom, standing right in my path. I made a B-line for her and tried to invent some nonsensical reason to get her street address but ended up blurting out, “Can I have your address? I like to know where people live.” Cause that’s not at all creepy.

Knowing very little about her I wasn’t sure what category to put her in (sporty, homey, chic, granola, etc.) but we added her to the list and moved on with our shopping. As we finished up the last of the homey girls–there was some major outside inspiration happening while we shopped–we decided to get super cozy throws, Yankee Candles, some nice (exchangeable) slippers and chocolate. We started to head for the wrapping paper and I realized that would be the perfect little set of gifts for a pregnant woman during Germany’s coldest season.

“Wait,” I said, “I’ve got to go back and get this set for our extra mom, it’s perfect.” I left Rebecca and retraced my steps, reaching for the soft gray throw we had chosen for the other three women. But I found myself reaching past it and grabbing the red blanket instead. The moment my fingers touched it I knew that this woman was placed in my path today for a reason. No matter how alone she feels right now, this girl has angels on her side and they were going to make sure she was taken care of. I don’t know if I heard it or felt it but the impression was loud and clear–“Get her the red one, she needs something cheerful right now.”

I was overcome with the feeling that Heavenly Father loves this woman. She has not been forgotten.

It made this whole busy Mrs. Claus business absolutely worth it. I’ve had some great moments this Christmas where I felt my family draw together and felt the influence of the Savior, but this one seals the deal. Jesus Christ remembers the lonely. The angel didn’t invite the village mayor to visit our Lord in the stable, he invited the poor and lonely shepherds.

I will take more time this next week to look for the forgotten this Christmas, the people who need a loaf of bread or an unexpected hug. Today reminded me why we have Christmas and it’s not too late for me to do a little bit more for someone else.



  1. You are good people.

  2. Annie, after all the blog posts lately from around the LDS blogoshphere that make me want to smack my computer, I’ve been feeling sad about the state of Mormon women. You single-handedly gave me my faith back. Bless you for having the true spirit of Christ AND acting on it!!

  3. This was beautiful. What a sweet service. So needed also, thank you.

  4. I love the idea of looking for the forgotten, not just the ones you love the most. Go Mrs. Claus.

  5. Thank you for this. I hope you will post on the outcome of your good deeds.

  6. Thank you for this post, Annie, love you so much!

  7. Nicely done, my friend. What often makes my Christmas season crazy and the sweetest is doing as you say – looking for those around us who need to know they are not forgotten and DOING something about it 🙂 Love you!

  8. Erin Laskey says:

    I came home today to find mystery packages in my driveway from Mrs. Claus Affair… So I googled it and found this post! This is really touching!! Thank you thank you for making my day today by having mystery packages waiting for me!! So very excited to open them on Christmas Day! Very sweet!

  9. Lisa Willis says:

    Annie!!!! I found you! You delivered gifts to my daughter and I today. I want to say a million thank-yous! This has been one rough week in particular, and you really put a smile on my face. I’m not used to anyone showing they care like this. We have been in the military 17 years and this has been the most caring squadron and group of people here in Germany we have ever been around. You are so sweet and thoughtful. I wanted to invite you in for tea! :0) Have a great and safe Holiday and Happy New Year!

    Lisa Willis

    • annie valentine says:

      You made my day today Lisa, probably my whOle Christmas. I’m so glad you were home, I hope you girls get a little magic this Christmas.

  10. This is the best idea ever. So wonderful, so sweet, so extra Christmas-y, so the-Annie-I-Love.

    Merry Christmas from half a world away, but close as can be in heart.

    • annie valentine says:

      I love you Kelly! Give me a few years and I’ll be home for Christmas for good. Give hugs and kisses to my sweet niece and nephews, will you?

  11. Erin Laskey says:

    Thank you so much for thinking of me, a stranger, on Christmas! You made my day with your thoughtfulness!! Please let me know how I can be involved for the next year! I would love to help you bring smiles to other women next year! My hubby said he will help fundraise too!

  12. So glad I stumbled upon your blog today. I’m just sorry it wasn’t before Christmas. What a beautiful gesture to take care of the moms. Thank you for setting such a great example!!

    • annie valentine says:

      Thank you Jennifer, it made for the most precious Christmas experience I’ve had to date. We will definitely be doubling our efforts and goals next year!

  13. Beautiful post. I would have loved to donate to this cause, keep me in mind for next year please.

  14. I am also an Air Force spouse and love this idea. We have also enjoyed living in Europe – Spangdahlem, Lakenheath and Rome. Enjoy your time in Europe! My family sure does miss weekend trips to amazing places across Europe. We now are stationed back in the States.

    I am curious how you picked the spouses you chose as recipients.

    I love to see Spouses supporting each other. The military family is a blessing.

    • annie valentine says:

      We took every spouse that we got and divided our money between them. Only left off two because they were gone over Christmas and new year.