I like leopards a lot; I like the way they move and the way their spots are rosettes that are small and densely packed. I have a feeling that I would like the way they think. Leopards fascinate me because of their opportunistic hunting behavior, adaptability to habitats and ability to run 36 mph. They have a notorious ability for stealth and agility.
So in 2008, when I saw fuzzy, leopard-spot pajamas in a bunch of girl sizes on the shelf of my favorite store in July, I knew they must be mine, and I bought a pair for each of my three adult daughters, starting my Christmas shopping early. What could be more fun than hanging out with your best friend/daughters all frolicking around the house in leopard spots?
And frankly, in the summer of 2008, everything looked peachy and rosy and the future looked bright — but then, none of us really saw what was coming right around the corner. By September, we all got word that the banks were probably failing and stock market crashing, and the pundits were forecasting that a recession/depression was coming. Pretty soon their forecasts of doom were truly happening, and the southern Utah economy was clearly winding down.
We all had businesses here, and several of us were involved in a family venture that had just recently expanded. We learned the financing we thought was in place fell through. The client base seemed to dry up before our eyes. Our other adult kids were involved in real estate and construction and that had virtually completely shut down.
Things looked very grim. I even lost my appetite; by Halloween I couldn’t eat the candy, and by Thanksgiving I couldn’t eat the turkey. By Christmas 2008, I’ll never forget the feelings of fear and hopelessness I felt as the year came to an end.
Frankly I wished we didn’t even have to acknowledge the upcoming Christmas holidays. I felt like I was walking through life in a daze, going through the motions just to get through the day. How could we celebrate? What was there to celebrate? My husband seemed more able to carry on and encouraged me to have faith … we really didn’t have a choice to do anything else anyway.
Christmas always arrives whether you are ready for it or not. For Christmas Eve, we gathered for dinner together at our home and afterward decided to sit and talk together. It was a pretty somber group, but one highlight was the leopard-spot pajamas; they brought smiles. We didn’t do anything fancy — instead we did something we hadn’t done in years, maybe decades. We simply expressed our love for each other and then each proceeded to take a moment to talk about faith and hope and love.
I felt inclined to discuss miracles and was amazed to find scripture that indicated that, "can a leopard change his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23) and “by faith miracles are wrought” (Moroni 7:37). I knew if we did more good and had faith, miracles would get us through the next few years.
Each family member, including the little grandchildren, spoke and expressed their love for one another. Each of the adults expressed concerns for the future but promised help and support to each other. We committed that we would pull through this together. There were many tears, and the little ones wondered what in the world was going on.
The following two years were as difficult as I was afraid they would be. All of us suffered financial losses, some more than others. But also in those years, we had several more precious babies born to us. I so loved that my children had the faith to grow their families even though times were hard.
In those years, none of us went hungry or without shelter or were cold and alone. None of us got sick or died. We could still call America “home” and we had each other. We had a future to rebuild and recoup and start again.1 comment on this story
I’m realizing that each of us had to learn to do things different to keep our family and businesses strong; we had to get creative and agile. I realize now as I look back on that “Christmas in leopard-spot jammies” that we’ve even taken on some of the qualities of those animals I love — we had to become resourceful and adaptable to habitats, we had to become agile and at times even stealthy. We had to rethink a lot about the way we do things, and it wasn’t easy. But it was worth it; we realized we had each other, and that’s all that matters.
Editor's note: For more than 100 years, the Deseret News has published original Christmas stories, eventually starting what is known as its annual "Christmas I Remember Best" writing contest. This is one of seven stories to be highlighted this holiday season.