The best Christmas of your life?
It's about more than material gifts
I actually have several Christmases that fall into my most memorable and favorite catagory. However, if I have to choose, it would come down to 2 specifically that were life changing to me and my family.
In 1987, my girls were 6 and 8. Finances were very slim at that point as I was a single mother and worked 2 full time jobs just to pay the bills and provide for them. I sat them down and told them that I did not have enough money to give them a lot of presents but that I would like for them to help me with a Christmas project that year. I told them about the patients at the hospital where I worked nights that would be confined during Christmas and some had no family to visit. I told them that I wanted to do something for them for Christmas but needed some helpers.
They were all in for it and we bought some cheap bags of candy, cellophane, ribbons and made little candy bags for all the patients. We took them to the hospital and personally delivered them and visited with the patients on Christmas Eve. I have never seen such young adults in 2 small children in my life! As it turned out, we had a family member that helped us out that year and they did receive a few gifts under the tree. Although I knew that they thoroughly enjoyed the patients that year, I didn't think about the long term affect that it would have on them until 1996.
I had remarried and just moved to a new town so things were really tight again. By this time, they were teenagers. My husband and I talked to them and explained the finances again and I asked them if they would mind if their Christmas was a bit late that year. Almost simultaniously, they asked if I remembered the Christmas that we visited the patients in the hospital for our Christmas. Of course, I did. They suggested that, instead of buying gifts, we should do things for others that year! I have never been so proud of anything in my life! It was at that moment that I realized the gift that I had given my 2 daughters that year at such a young age. So, we made home made candy with pecans from our pecan tree and gave it away.
We raked a yard for an old lady and other little things that we normally don't even think twice to do. We were having so much fun with it that I decided to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper about it in hopes of helping someone else that may be in the same situation to deal with the depression that can come from financial difficulties over the holidays.
The day it was published, I got a call from the newspaper office asking me to come by. When I went by, they handed me an envelope with a beautiful card in it, which I still have to this day. It had a nice poem inside but it was simply signed...It is in giving that you truly receive. Inside the card was over $200 for our Christmas. After we calmed the tears, the girls and I talked and decided that since I did not write the letter for financial gain, we should use the money for helping others. We agreed that they would pick out 1 gift each and the rest would be used for others.
We went to the store and they both picked out the cheapest gift that they could get their hands on! Again, my peacock feathers spread wide at the size of the hearts on these teens. We got busy and did some shopping for a homeless man we knew of in the area, bought some butane for a family that would be in the cold on Christmas and bought ingredients to make even more candy to pass out. We have never felt so blessed as we have on those 2 Christmases.
Today, they both still tell me that those were the best Christmases they had in their childhood. It is because of that lesson that we have all understood the signature on that card and have began living in the fashion that it IS in giving that you truly receive! There is always someone out there less fortunate than we are and if we open our hearts to others, our blessings will overflow! May all your Christmases be filled with the feeling of giving of yourself along with the gifts that you buy.