The Great Christmas Exchange

The days leading up to the holiday season were incredibly difficult for me, as I kept imagining what should have been.

After Thanksgiving, I even told my husband, “Maybe we shouldn't put up a Christmas tree this year.” He quickly nixed that idea, knowing I'd eventually regret not decorating (which, indeed, I would have).

Nevertheless, that statement reflected my general posture towards the holidays this year: They were something I just had to survive.

Despite my Scrooge-like attitude toward the holiday season, when I saw that Elizabeth at Oak and Oats and Samantha at Elah Tree were hosting The Great Christmas Exchange, I knew immediately I wanted to participate.

Truthfully, my desire to participate in this surprised even me.

After all, I don't actually enjoy shopping and I'm extremely introverted. Even so, from the moment I read about The Great Christmas Exchange, I was drawn to it.

Maybe that's because this year, in the midst of my miscarriage despair, I discovered an online community that genuinely is a community. Through the online world, I met, mourned, and grieved with women from all around the world who have experienced the heartbreak of miscarriage. I'm part of an online pregnancy loss support group that has been immensely helpful to my healing process.

Maybe that's why almost immediately, I saw The Great Christmas Exchange as a unique opportunity to develop and form relationships with other bloggers.

What I Sent:

To that end, I spent the better part of November and December lovingly stalking Skyanne. I hit the jackpost when I discovered a “Stuff I Want” board on her Pinterest. This led me to Musana Jewelry, whose mission it is to empower Ugandan women through a vibrant social enterprise that provides stable employment and educational opportunities, thereby building the capacity of artisans to end their cycle of poverty and become advocates for change in their communities. I promptly ordered Skyanne a necklace from here, similar to one she'd pinned on Pinterest.

What I Received:

Great Christmas Exchange Gift From Janene

I was delighted to receive my package from Janene (though even as I opened my gift from her, my husband kept saying, incredulously, “You really exchanged Christmas gifts with bloggers you've never met?”). Janene did her homework on me and sent me a beautiful fair trade necklace (which I wore yesterday for the first time) and chocolate. Aside from the gift, I also really appreciated reading Janene's note to me.

Though it's entirely possible that all that will ever become of this exchange is just that, my own experience this year has proven that sometimes when the virtual world reaches into the real world, authentic friendships form. 

Maybe that's what will happen as a result of The Great Christmas Exchange. 



That was such a sweet post! I'm so glad you participated in the exchange! Beth shared such sweet words too. I hope you can continue to find friendship in this community. :)

Posted by Samantha, over 9 years ago


Elizabeth -

Thanks so much for your kind words & for hosting the Great Christmas Exchange. On behalf of the friends you've walked the miscarriage road with - THANKS. That support is SO incredibly important and life-giving.

And thanks for subscribing to the blog!

All the best -

Posted by Jen , over 9 years ago


What a powerful post! I was honestly moved to tears! I have walked with several best friends through miscarriages and there is nothing easy about it. I am glad you have found a community to process and share that ache with. I am also overjoyed that the Great Christmas Exchange intrigued you and was a little light in a dark time.

your husband sounds like my husband too! he always thinks it is funny when i get blog mail!!!

Thanks for participating! I am so glad to "meet" you and just signed up to get your posts emailed to me :) you are wonderful!!

Posted by Elizabeth, over 9 years ago

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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