Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Randy Spring 12/29/09


Randy Spring, missing from Whitewater, CA since 10/10/1988


I am the mother of Randy Spring who disappeared on Oct 10,1988. Randy spent six years in the U.S. Army serving in South Korea, Colorado Springs and Hawaii. He was discharged March 1988 and we were all happy that he would be home this year for the holidays, however, things changed and Randy decided he would like to go camping and hiking in the San Jacinto Mountains, near Whitewater, CA. I took him to the place where he wanted to be dropped off and only expected him to be gone for a few days, after 10 days and no word from Randy the Sheriff Office was notified. They did a search but with no results. Randy had shown me maps where he was going but after all these years I feel he never went hiking at all. Did he meet someone or did something happen-only God knows.

I kept thinking he would come home anytime especially for Christmas as Randy always sent cards and presents for the family while he was serving in the military. The first Christmas after his disappearance I got him a new radio (boom box) and had it all set up in his room and many presents under the tree, but many Christmas have passed with no word. Randy always loved to decorate and I remember him showing us pictures of his bunk and how he decorated it for Christmas.

I have made an album of Randy, baby pictures, school pictures and military pictures. There are pictures of his first haircut, riding the merry-go-round and sitting in his rocking chair. One Christmas when he got his first bike with training wheels, getting his hot wheels and Randy and his brother, Rick playing on the floor with them, visiting Santa Claus. Have many Christmas cards Randy made in school “Merry Christmas Mom from Randy”; one reads “Merry Christmas Mother” From Randy to Mom. He made a Valentine that reads “Be My Valentine I love you.” You know it.

I will never give up hope that one day Randy will be home and our family will be complete again. Our family will never stop searching for him and I know God knows where he is and I pray that his whereabouts will be revealed soon. There are members of our family that Randy has never seen and one of his niece’s has a son named after Randy.

I only cope with Randy missing with the help of God’s love and the peace he gives me and I must go on for the rest of the family, which consists of my daughter and two other sons. We all love and miss Randy very much, we miss his laughter and his willingness to always help someone, and he was always there for his family and especially for his mother.

Arlene Spring, Mother of Randy

Learn more about Randy

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Beverly Meadows 12/27/09

Beverly Meadows, missing from Marshall, TX since 12/26/2008

A Christmas and Birthday Message for Beverly

"We love you and we miss you so very much each and every day."

"Christmas will not be the same without you. Also, we hope and pray that we will be able to give you a hug and tell you Happy Birthday this year - December 31, 2009."

My daughter, Beverly Meadows, has been missing since December 26, 2008. She was a resident at the Community Care Nursing Home in Marshall, Texas, and it is believed that she walked out of the Nursing Home that evening. We have not had one clue as to her disappearance. No one has seen or heard from her since that date. The last time I saw Beverly was on Christmas Day and the last time I talked to her on the telephone was the day she disappeared. I told her I would see her before her Birthday which was December 31. Beverly and I talked on the phone a
lmost every day of the week. The only place that I believe Beverly would have wanted to go would be to her home which is about twenty miles from the Nursing Home. She didn't make it to her home and we have looked constantly with no leads as to where she could be.

Christmas has always been a very special time for our family. Beverly has one brother and one sister and several nieces and nephews. She has always shown her love to each and every one of them. We would always gather as a family and spend the day together, eating Christmas dinner with special treats (not worrying about the calories - we would count those on another day) and opening gifts from each other. This year we will still get together as a family but there will be a great big hole in our hearts and a silence that Beverly always seemed to fill with her laughter and joy of the simple things of life that lots of people seem to take for granted.

One thing we could always count on was that Beverly would want to go out and look at all the Christmas lights. She loved just going out and driving through the streets and seeing all the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. We would drive for hours just looking and enjoying them. Now I have already begun to see the Christmas decorations and I have to stop and get control of my feelings before I can continue down the street because I look over at the empty seat in the car and know how much my heart hurts because she is not there. I always tell her right then and there that I love her and miss her.

Beverly still has her home on a rural street in Texas and her brother and his family lives on that same street. When Beverly and I would drive down that street going to her home all of the little animals would actually follow our vehicle and wait for her to get out of the car so she could pet them. They knew the vehicle and who might be in it. Picture this - dogs, cats, and little ducks in a row just following along behind the vehicle just waiting for Beverly to hug them and give them a little special treat that she always had ready and waiting for them. The little horses and goats would be waiting by the neighbor's fence to see Beverly. She always filled the bird feeders as soon as she got home and we would sit on her front porch and watch all the beautiful birds come and get their bird seeds. To this date, the little animals still follow my vehicle down her street but as soon as I open the door they know she is not there. How very sad to know that they miss her, too. It was not unusual for Beverly to receive a bag of bird seed as a Christmas gift or a bag of cat or dog food because she would definitely make sure that all the little animals were fed. Beverly has had many pets during her lifetime, always treating each one so special and giving each one their own special name and in return she received unconditional love from all of them. Now, all of her pets have passed on to Pet Heaven through the years. She only had one sheep left to care for when she went missing so because we couldn't give him the care he needed we gave him to a nice family who promised to care for him.

Beverly always went shopping for Christmas cards early and sent them out early. The first Christmas card to be received in the mail box would be from Beverly and you would know it was meant especially for you and you could open it up and it would be playing Christmas music. Now even to this date, Beverly is still getting cards in her mailboxfor all occasions from friends who do not want to believe that she is really gone. They say when she gets back home she will open them so I put them in a box and save them for her and hope some day she will be able to read them. Even though Beverly was not seeing these friends because she was embarrassed to be in a Nursing Home and she had gained a little weight but they were still sending her cards in the mail and she always looked forward to opening her mail box and finding them. They knew she was a beautiful, kind-hearted, caring person - both inside and out. I always think of Beverly as a good example of how the people in the world should treat each other and it would be a much better place to live.

We have found in our daily search for Beverly that most people want to surround themselves by people who make them feel good so they turn their heads and look the other way. Or, they ask how old she is and as soon as they know she is not a child they lose interest. I always have to say that a daughter is still your child or a son is still your child and the more years you have with them - the more memories that you have to remember. I am sorry but right now I can't pretend to be happy just to make others feel good. Also, I have found that most people do not know what to say when I tell them that my daughter is missing. I understand this because I have thought back to the time before Beverly was missing and tried to think of what I might have said to someone and it is very hard. But the one thing I would have asked if there is any way I can help in your search. I would have followed through by doing something that was helpful. It really hurts when people say they will help and never show up to offer a helping hand.

One thing I do is look at each and every face of the people I meet today. Not only looking for Beverly but for other people who are missing. I saw a girl in a store that looked so much like my daughter, I turned around and talked to her and told her that my daughter is missing and she ended up giving me a hug - which meant a lot to me. One thing that is extremely hard to do is go to Walmarts because that is where Beverly and I would go shopping almost every week for necessities for her and treats for the little animals. It is very difficult to walk down the aisles in the store now without thinking of her and wiping away the tears. I always take a handful of tissues and I usually make my trips to the store short.

My husband and I rented a vehicle for several days and drove over six hundred miles searching for Beverly and handing out posters. Our vehicle is getting a little old and we use it now for shorter trips each week. We went to some major hospitals and we drove to a lot of little towns and told people about Beverly. On a road in Texas, I saw a girl standing outside starting to get in a big truck with a guy and she looked so much like my daughter, same hair, same face, same clothes - just so much resemblance. I drove down the road a short distance and looked at my husband and said, "I have to go back and talk to that girl and see if she is Beverly." After turning around and going back and talking to the girl standing by the truck I knew she wasn't my daughter. She understood and I told her to please tell her family the things she needs to tell them today because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Thank goodness, my husband - Beverly's stepfather - always goes with me no matter where I go and is always there for me. Well, actually, he doesn't go through all the wooded areas I search because he is afraid of snakes. Oh, by the way, I am also afraid of snakes but I have only come face to face with a couple of snakes and they were just as afraid of me as I was of them. I have also spoken to many homeless people living in the edge of the woods in the most unexpected places. I always talk to them and ask their name and where they are from and if they are missing and if there is anyone I can contact for them or is there anything I can do to help them.

This Christmas is going to be the toughest Christmas I have ever lived through but I have to maintain my sanity and realize that I have other family members who need me. We are going to celebrate Christmas at their homes and my husband and I will be there to let them know that we are here for them, also. Beverly's biological Dad passed away on February 19, 2005, and he will be remembered by all the family. It was so extremely hard for Beverly to lose her Dad because she loved him unconditionally and talked about him all the time and missed him so very much.

I can look in every room in my home and see things that Beverly has bought me for past Christmas - especially beautiful pictures and little statues of angels. Beverly always bought Christmas gifts for lots of people but the one special gift that she bought for me was for Mother's Day. It is a balloon that has these words printed on it - Mom, admit it! I am your favorite, aren't I? Signed by Beverly Theresa, Happy Mothers Day - 1987. This balloon is twenty-two years old and still has not lost its shape. I also have a picture of Beverly that was taken on that same Mother's Day in 1987.

This is the first Christmas that Beverly has been missing but it seems like it has been two because she was missing the day after Christmas last year. The shock and trauma that we suffered that day when we found out Beverly was missing has erased the memory of that Christmas. My heart goes out to all of the people who have lived through years and years without their loved ones. Unless you have lived through the agony of not knowing where your loved one is there is no possible way you could understand how heart-wrenching it really is. I can definitely say that time passing does not make it any easier.

The first few months Beverly was missing I couldn't eat because I thought she may be hungry, when I was cold - I wondered if she was out there in the cold. My mind is constantly thinking of where she could be - is she hungry - is someone helping her -is she being held against her will - is she out there taking care of someone else -or is she already in Pet Heaven - taking care of all the little pets that she loved so very much. Yes, when my mind has to go there, I can picture her holding and caring for the little pets.

This Christmas we are planning to release twelve red heart balloons (one for each month that Beverly has been missing) and we will write on each one to express how much we love and miss her. We released balloons at the Cue Center National Road Tour stop in Bossier City, Louisiana, on August 20, 2009, and it was such a lasting memory. It was an amazing feeling just watching them climb higher and higher into the sky. At that time I knew that if Beverly was still missing on Christmas Day, we would be releasing balloons for the one year mark.

I agree, it has been extremely hard writing this because I have to actually put the words on paper of the thoughts that wonder through my mind each and every day. Sometimes I wonder if I were terminally ill if I could actually lay down and die not knowing where my daughter is and if she is ok. As long as I am alive I will be searching for her. For each day that Beverly is missing, I put another penny in a jar. Beverly loved dropping pennies in my path so each time I find one I know she has placed it there. When all is said and done, "Little things really do mean a lot!"

Thank you so very much to Project Jason for giving me the opportunity to put some of my thoughts into writing so that others can have a glimpse into Beverly's life and my life since she has been missing.

Liz Lingenfelter
Beverly Meadows' Mother

Learn more about Beverly

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Bobbi Ann Campbell 12/24/09

Bobbi Ann Campbell, missing from Salt Lake City, UT since 1/7/1995

My mom, Bobbi Ann Campbell, went missing on December 27, 1994. We were living with my great grandparents at the time. My mom and I went to her friend’s house to give her a Christmas present. My mom asked her friend to baby sit me while she went to go pick up her paycheck and then go to the bank and cash the check. I fell asleep waiting for my mom to come get me. When I woke up my mom still wasn’t there. I called my great grandparents and they came and got me. My grandpa went to report her missing after a couple of days. They said to wait because she is an adult. My grandpa drove around aimlessly looking for my mom’s car. He went to her place of employment to find my mom had never made it to pick up her paycheck. My grandpa kept going back to the police station until they filed a missing persons report.

I was only with my mom for a few short years, but I can still remember the holidays I spent with her. She used to make some of our Christmas ornaments by hand. My mom was a very creative woman. I have home a home video of our last Christmas together that help keep the memories with me. She was so happy to watch everyone open their presents. She was filming me, my great grandma, and my great grandpa while we opened ours and she waited until we were done to open hers. That Christmas, I remember waking everyone up at about 3 or 4 A.M. The last present I opened that Christmas was from my “Santa”. It was a Super Nintendo. I was so excited to play it. I remember playing it that day with my mom.

This Christmas is not only my 15th Christmas without my mom, it’s also the 15th anniversary of when I last saw her. When I was little every Christmas I would leave a note for Santa next to his cookies and milk.

“Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas this year is my mom to come home. I miss her a lot. I don’t care about the presents. Just her. It would make my family happy too. Thank you.


Stephanie Farrell”

Every year I would come out hoping my mom would be there waiting for me next to the Christmas tree.

Every Thanksgiving dinner we have as a family, my great grandparents talk about how much my mom loved the canned cranberries. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason they still put them out.

During the holidays I still find myself wondering what she would want for Christmas if she were here. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. During the holidays my mom is all I can think about.

My mom cared so much about making every one else happy. I miss her laugh.

I still write her notes all the time. For her birthday, Mothers Day, Christmas, Etc. I attach them to a helium balloon and send them off, wishing they would fly to my mom.

I’m sure I’m not alone here. Almost every Christmas song makes me cry. For example: “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “Blue Christmas”, and “All I Want For Christmas Is You” just to name a couple.

I miss my mom so much. I wish she could be here for the holidays. Hopefully someday I will have some answers. Hopefully the answers will help me get through them a little easier.

-Stephanie Amandia Cook

Learn more about Bobbi Ann

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Anthony Holland 12/21/09

Anthony Holland, missing from Cordell, OK since 6/21/2009

The last time any family members heard from Anthony Holland was on Fathers Day this year. He was last seen at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, June 21, 2009 at his home in Cordell, Oklahoma. About one hour earlier, he had returned home from a gun show held at Elk City, Oklahoma. He visited with his wife, stated he had errands to run, and he has not been seen since. On the following day, his abandoned farm truck was found and later his cell phone was found approximately 8 miles from his home on farm land he owns. All his personal items, such as wallet, check book, driver’s license, large amount of cash, and pocket knife were discovered at his home. Numerous air and ground searches with tracking dogs, cadaver dogs, spelunkers, divers, horseback riders and hikers have been conducted but no evidence has been found.

Anthony had made Cordell, Oklahoma his home. He has lived there for over 30 years. His wife and he were blessed with two sons. Anthony owned a Snap-On franchise and several farms and other ventures. His pastimes included hunting, fishing, reading western novels and just talking to family and friends.

Traditional family Christmases for our family always starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving in western Oklahoma, near Anthony’s home. Approximately 30 loved ones consisting of aunts, uncles, niece, nephews, and cousins gather for a late lunch and a hilarious, gift grabbing, finger pointing Santa gift exchange game. Then the Christmas holiday is spent in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the home of his parents. All the family is there which includes sister, brothers, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and any and all extras that need or want to share in eating his mom’s homemade dinner rolls.

In the Holland’s home you will find children gathering in the game room, with girls playing dress up with frilly dresses and make-up, boys on electronic games, accumulating points and points and more points, all just to see who will be the virtual winner. Adults are spread out through the living areas and kitchen, talking, sharing, rejoicing, cooking, cleaning, loving, and laughing. Throughout the evening the Holland clan is entertained with fashion shows, show and tell, and gradually become referees for the youngsters, all the while immensely enjoying the love and companionship shared by the family.

Anthony has always been a very giving person. He truly enjoys finding the perfect gift for family members and for friends. He frequently surprised numerous of us with a gift when it was not Christmas, birthday or any special occasion. He always made notes of what people liked and then would find that item and truly enjoyed giving them that gift. One Christmas, his sister fondly remembers that when he found out she was taking a trip to New York City, he quickly supplemented her gift with several hundred dollars to make her trip more enjoyable. She is a single mom so this helped her a lot. All of us remember how excited Anthony was to help with any difficult tape that was on the presents. He always carried his pocket knife and would jump up to dash across the room to help the children, grandparents, parents or his siblings open a present by cutting through the tape. So you can imagine how much Anthony liked Christmas. It was a holiday made for him. It was always fun to see what Anthony had in store for everyone.

This will be our first Christmas since Anthony disappeared. It will be very hard as it is also the month of his birth and the half year anniversary of his disappearance. His mom and sister are planning to put together a memory board of photos of Anthony and other memorabilia. In this way we hope to feel his closeness and remember him for the awesome individual he is. Another reminder will be the many Snap-On Christmas collectibles that Anthony has given us over the years. As we decorate our homes this year these collectibles will be so special to all of us.

Each day that goes by is another day without Anthony. We hope and pray that he is safe. We also pray that we will learn of his whereabouts soon. The days have already turned into weeks and now they are becoming months. We all have faith that we will find Anthony one day and this faith keeps us all going. We are also fortunate to have such a close and loving family. We give each other strength, courage and a shoulder to cry on as needed. We all love Anthony and hope to be blessed with his presence for future holidays.

Written by: Teresa Goughan with much help from Anthony’s sister, Candice and his mom, Rena

Learn more about Anthony

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Jesse Ross 12/19/09

Jesse Ross, missing from Chicago, IL since 11/21/2006

Christmas Memories
ne of my fondest Christmas memories as a boy was going to the Orpheum theatre in Wichita with my dad to see Santa. We also saw Tex Ritter (the late father of the late John Ritter of Three’s a Company fame). Tex was one of the early singing cowboys, like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. We received Christmas stockings and the flavor of peppermint candy cane and cream filled chocolate has stayed with me to this very day.

With my own family I remember it was Jesse’s job early on to move the little mouse from pocket to pocket on our Christmas calendar, a job he took very seriously. He and Andy would pass out gifts Christmas morn. Jesse would leave Santa cookies and milk, but He would also leave gifts for Santa, a toy truck or car, or a stuffed animal. He would have been hurt if Santa hadn’t taken these things, so Santa did. I imagine he recycled them to some needy child somewhere.

Andy in bright pj’s and curly blonde hair, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, was the Christmas poster boy. In contrast to Jesse’s burning energy, Andy quietly took in the experience. Andy got his first bicycle for Christmas and it was huge (by little boy standards). Being practical parents we felt he would grow into it and it would last him a long time (parents beware practicality). He accepted it with quiet grace, but I think he would have been justified in saying “Are you nuts? How am I supposed to get on this thing, it’s a tank!”

Donna made sure we got to church; she made sure everyone ate a good breakfast. And that every Christmas was a time of love. She also made sure we went to the tree lot and cut down a fresh tree each year. For me this was a love hate relationship. Hauling that tree around in the cold was a pain, but the experience with Donna and the boys was wonderful. We bought hot chocolate for a quarter while they prepared the tree. Andy and Jesse were in charge of the two wheeled cart for transporting the tree through the lot. I remember one Christmas Andy was sitting on the long handles sticking out the front of the cart and Jesse was sitting on the back of the cart. I had cut the tree and said “bring the cart”. Andy jumped up and the handles on the cart flew skyward. The back of the cart thudded into the ground and Jesse did a back flip out of the cart. I think he landed on his head, which might explain some things about his behavior in later years.

Andy, Jesse, and I had the job of putting sprinkles on the Christmas cookies Donna would bake. We also had to sample them on a regular basis for quality. Christmas cookies had a short lifespan at our house.

On Nov 21st 2006 Jesse disappeared in Chicago during a Model UN convention. Now Christmas is spent with family and friends and we hold dear those who are here and hold out hope that Jesse will be with us again.

Written with love by Don Ross, father of Jesse Ross

Learn more about Jesse

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Monica Carrasco 12/13/09

Monica Carrasco, missing from Balmorhea, TX since 10/1/2003

Written by Kathy Carrasco, mother of Monica

On Oct. 2 2003, between 1:30am and 6:00 am, my daughter, Monica Carrasco disappeared from her aunt and uncle's home in Balmorhea,Texas. She was 16 yrs old at the time and will turn 23 yrs old this December 13th. All her belongings were left behind: her clothes, shoes, purse, and suitcase. The only thing that seemed to be missing was her bible, which I just bought her a few weeks before she disappeared.

The holidays are the most difficult to deal with. It's our faith in God and constant prayer that keeps us going. I'm so blessed to have my son John, my daughter- in- law Silvia, grand-daughter Cassandra, (3 yrs) grandson Santiago, (18months) my daughter Rachel, and my parents. For all those who give me encouragement and hope, I am truly grateful.

One of my fondest Christmas memories of my daughter, Monica, I wish to share is her wonderfully humorous giving and generous nature. Monica always tried to give everyone what they wished for. She knew all so well that her siblings and others would have the tendency to examine presents under the tree and try to figure out what the gifts were. So she devised a plan of putting gifts into larger boxes (adding a few heavy items such as rocks,etc) . On Christmas eve, it was hilarious to watch the family members opens Monica's specially wrapped gifts. When I say "big" boxes , that would be no exaggeration. Now visualize unwrapping a gift... opening a box... another box....another box...etc.

I started a "Hope"chest where I have been placing Monica's Christmas gifts. I hope and pray that she will come home soon. The Hope chest symbolizes that we never gave up hope and "believe she will come home.

I'd like to close by sharing a poem written by Monica:

My Winter Snowman

The winter
The weather is cold
And snowflakes drop
To the road so cold. The
Snowman that I build are
very unique, they look like cotton
and glow like stars. Winter to me
is very special, it is the best season of the
year because it is Christmas and your family
get together, open presents and there is the birth of
Jesus Christ
Our Lord
And Savior

By Monica Carrasco

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Debora Gail DeLoach Moody 12/7/09

Debora "Gail" DeLoach Moody, missing from Long County, GA since 12/4/2007

Written by Melanie Clark, Mother of Gail

It is hard to try and put into words how you feel about a missing daughter and will never see them again.

Debora Gail DeLoach Moody went missing on Dec 4, 2007, at about 5:30 that evening. I had spoken to Gail on Dec 4, 2007 and she was supposed to call me back that night. I never heard from her again.

It is very hard to carrying on without her. The times we really miss her is at her birthday April 22, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We always went to a camp-all with relatives and had a big feast, played games, and just sat around a fire and talked about old times.Great grandparents, grandparents, and cousins we'd not seen in a long time were there.

We would sit a around the big fire and listen and talk about old stories from our grandparents and listen to our family history. We had a great time. Sometimes we just had Thanksgiving at home with all the trimmings. There is an empty seat now and our table is not the same with a missing child, and gone before us parents and grandparents.

Christian ( Gail's son) has a real hard time at his birthday on Nov 3th. Gail surprised him for his birthday in 2007 and came to visit Christian us in Fl. It is really hard for him this year because she is gone.

Christmas is very hard for us not being able to be with family and friends. Our family has taken different views on Gail's disappearance. Every year we had a special day with all the family together at Christmas. We would gather at some place that we had chosen for our get together.

We always had the Christmas play and the younger children would play different roles. We read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 out of the bible, sang songs, played games, and exchanged gifts, but this too has come to an end.

Christmas day is just another day for us to sit down and eat with Gail missing. So, we do not make a big deal about the holidays anymore.

If we only said good bye to our beautiful daughter , mother, and sister, but who knows when it it your time?

The last thing that I would like to remind everyone: Tell your children, husband, and every member of your family how much you love them. Tomorrow may be too late.

Melanie Clark
Mother of missing child, Debora Gail Deloach Moody

Learn more about Gail

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Jennifer Wilkerson 12/3/09

Jennifer Wilkerson, Missing from Lubbock, TX since 7/13/2004

Written by Vikki Wilkerson, mother of Jennifer

On July 13, 2004, my middle daughter, Jennifer Lynn Wilkerson, went missing. She was last seen leaving her boyfriend’s house about 11:00 a.m. in Lubbock, Texas to go home and get ready to go to work at “Nothin’ but Smokes” around 2:00 p.m. When she did not show up for work and did not call saying she wouldn’t be in, her employer contacted Jen’s boyfriend to see if he knew what was going on. Thinking Jennifer may have fallen asleep, her boyfriend went to the trailer Jennifer lived in. When he arrived at the trailer, Jennifer’s car was parked out front but when he knocked on the door, no one answered. Bewildered but not worried, he contacted Jennifer’s roommate to see if she had heard from Jennifer. No one seemed to have heard from her since she left his house earlier in the day. When the roommate finally got to the trailer, the door was locked, both sets of Jennifer’s keys were hanging just inside the trailer door, but there were no signs of Jennifer. Her car parked out front was unlocked and her cell phone, checkbook, driver’s license, and a few personal belongings were in the front seat. Still no signs of Jennifer. Her roommate’s boyfriend called my husband on July 14, 2004 asking if we had heard from Jennifer. Everyone was already alarmed because Jen would always let someone know if she was going to do something out of the ordinary. The Lubbock Sheriff’s department was contacted, and on July 15, 2004, the media, with the direction of the sheriff’s department, was asking the public for help in locating our daughter. She was listed as being an “Endangered Missing Adult.” So began the heart-wrenching journey of searching for our missing daughter.

Now, still searching and praying and hoping that each day will be the day we receive answers, we have to come to the realization that we may never get to hold our daughter in our arms, or see that wonderful smile, or hear that silly giggle ever again in this world. Although it is all in the same, this story is written to talk about the holidays and how we cope. Memories can be bittersweet and yet they are all we have at this time to hold.

Christmas was always a time that, no matter where life took any of us, we somehow managed to spend together. For 26 sweet years, we would celebrate Christmas at our home here in Hobbs where the kids grew up. It was a joyous time. Singing, baking cookies and candy, wrapping presents, candlelight services, and when they were young, the big night that Santa would visit. I loved bringing Santa to life, filling the stockings, arranging the gifts under the tree to look magical, eating the cookies and drinking the milk that was left so lovingly for Santa. On Christmas Eve, it was usually close to midnight before we could get the girls settled in bed and supposedly sound asleep. That is when I would spin the magic. After everything was in place, Jack and I would crawl in bed for a very short winter’s nap. I would lie in bed and listen to the girls giggle and say shhh be quiet, Mom will say it is too early. They would lay there being silly and they’d try talking each other into peeking in the living room to see if Santa had come. Usually around 2 a.m., they would agree they would all go together. I would hear them whispering with excitement about what was under the tree, and after a short time they would come running in the bedroom yelling with glee, “Mom, Santa’s been here.” Everyone would see what was in the stockings and pass out the gifts to be opened. It sounds so calm to me now, putting it on paper, but believe me, it was nothing but calm and organized. Bows and wrapping paper would be flying, ohs and ahs, and Mom look, look what I got!!! After the last present was opened and everyone had a bit of time to enjoy his or her gifts, we all would be ready for bed. About the time most everyone else in town might be waking, the Wilkerson family was just going to bed.

We celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, sang carols, pulled taffy, and on some Christmases we would put on little plays for the family. The kids were always the characters in the play. Growing up as a child, one of my favorite Christmas stories was in the Ideal Christmas magazine. It was a story of a beautiful, white winged horse that longed to be part of the story of Christmas. While flying far above a snow covered country town, huge bubbles floated to the sky where the winged horse would wonder at the marvelous reflections of children singing, bright lights on decorated trees, laughter and love. He wanted to be a part of the scene so bad that he flew down to the town, but once he was there all the celebration was in the homes. Sad, he rested in a small barn that belonged to the baker. The baker’s wife came in the stable and saw huge tears coming from his eyes. When the woman was told why he was so sad, she said, “I know what I can do! I will change you into a sugar cookie and hang you high on the Christmas tree!” The winged horse thought for a moment and said “But what if one of the children eats me?” The old women assured him that the children were not allowed to eat the sweets until after they had their dinner and she would get him before that happened. As she promised, she changed him into the most beautiful sugar cookie you could imagine and hung him just below the star on the Christmas tree. What a sight to behold, children laughing and singing, wonderful scents of cinnamon, pumpkin, and apples, and bright shining lights. Just before dinner, the family gathered around on the floor and all listened while the Grandmother read a story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Never had the winged horse felt so much love and happiness. One little girl had been eyeing him all evening and very slowly crept up to the tree. Just has she was about to put her warm little hands around the sugar cookie, her mother quietly grabbed her up in her arms and said, “No sweets until after you eat.” While the family was having their dinner, the old woman returned and placed the winged horse back in the barn, changing him back to his glorious self. The winged horse flew back up to sky with a very happy heart.

We did a play on this story that was just incredible. We made a little outfit and wings for the part of the winged horse. It was so very much fun. We laughed and cried at the same time! We even decorated winged horse sugar cookies for Santa.

Even after the girls were grown, we would celebrate much the same. My oldest daughter had children, so my girls got to help spin the magic of Santa. Wonderful, fun times, but things change, children and grandchildren grow up and begin their own traditions, as it should be. Life happens, deaths in the family, divorces, and of course Jennifer vanishing without a trace. The first few years she was missing, the holidays were so very painful. As bad as I tried to enjoy it with the rest of the family, I couldn’t. The lights weren’t as bright, no singing and dancing, no cookies being baked, I was just to tired and so consumed with grief and worry, all I could do was hope the season would soon be over. It was only a few seasons ago, that at my lowest, I realized the true meaning of Christmas again in my heart.

Thanksgiving and Christmas will never again be the same, but I can be thankful for the many blessings I do have in my life. Jack, my husband, is my rock and a very special blessing! Without him, I would be lost! We will love and remember when and hold tight to the hope that someday we will be able to celebrate this wonderful time of the year with our entire family.

To all of you, have a Merry Christmas and very happy New Year!

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