CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - When many think of Christmas, they think of Santa, gifts, toys and being surrounded with family and friends during the holidays.
There's also something else behind the spirit of Christmas - faith.
What's Christmas without faith? That's exactly what one Conway family is holding on to as they await their holiday miracle.
This year, Christmas was different in the Houp household.
"I had to sell the kids' Xbox, things that made me feel horrible as a parent, as a husband, as a provider," father Jamie Houp said. "All these things I do every year, it kills me not to be able to have 30 presents sitting under the tree already."
The father of three said it all began after his wife Trish gave birth to their youngest child, Kailyn, in March of last year.
After giving birth, Trish started having debilitating migraines and dizzy spells occasionally.
"Being together for 12 years, I know my wife. This isn't normal," Jamie said.
Trish's neurologist had put her on medications for the symptoms and insisted that it was all due to stress. Nine month later, doctors would soon make a grim discovery.
"They did find a mass in her brain. It is a tumor about the size of a baseball, and it's pressing on her spinal cord and they need to fly her down to MUSC immediately," Jamie Houp said.
Life for the family would immediately change overnight.
The rare brain tumor, called a Juvenile Pylocytic Astrocytoma, was growing rapidly. Doctors told the couple it is often found in children.
Trish, a stay-at-home mom, would undergo several surgeries to safely remove the tumor. That included removing a part of her brain tissue, which would affect her quality of life.
According to Jamie, the surgery will impact his wife's short-term memory, and cognitive and motor skills.
Trish now experiences spasms and tremors. She also has difficulty walking and talking.
"You try to believe that everything happens for a reason, and you try to believe that there's going to be a good that comes out of it in the end, and there's a purpose for the suffering," Jamie Houp said.
The strong-willed father ultimately lost his job while trying to care for his wife full-time, and take care of his children and the household.
"It just doesn't seem like you can get a break sometimes," he said.
Jamie remembered it was just last Christmas he was able to provide for his family. This year, dwindling savings and rising bills are making it difficult to stay afloat.
"Last night I had to post on Facebook if anybody had lights they can donate, because it just doesn't feel the same," he said.
According to Jamie, someone donated a Christmas tree, and he's grateful and thankful for all the assistance and aid from members of his church.
Other programs like the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program are helping to provide Christmas gifts for his three children, but he said it's nothing like being able to provide for your own.
While his family may not have a lot now, Jamie said they are still blessed.
"Thank God that she's here, and that we still have our family," he said. "I'm not going to lose hope; I can't. This is my wife, this is my family, this is our life. I'm hopeful somehow, some way, there's a purpose for this. I don't know what it is, and it's very discouraging sometimes, and it's hard to push through, and try to understand that God is in control."
More than anything this holiday season, the Houp family is hoping for a Christmas miracle.
"I just hope that maybe somebody somewhere that can make some sort of a difference that can do something to give us some sort of financial relief," said Jamie.