The Christmas List...
At the beginning of December, I usually send out an e-mail asking my children to make a list of items they might want for Christmas. There is, however, another list that my entire family receives each year that is much more important and one that we all consider to be a blessing to all of us and reminds us of the "True Meaning of Christmas".
My family is one that truly believes, "It is more blessed to GIVE than receive". That is precisely why each year, we contact our church to participate in the Christmas Ministries Program. There are many people out there who are down and out and experiencing many situations that cause them much stress and anxiety, especially during the Christmas season. That stress is not necessarily because of "them", but because of the children in their homes whom they desperately want to give a "Merry Christmas" to.
Our church asks needy families within the church to write letters to the woman who oversees the ministry and then she forwards them to individuals interested in providing for those families for Christmas. You can either chose to purchase items from their list and have someone from the church deliver them or you can deliver them yourselves. My family always chooses to deliver them.
It is a humbling experience from the moment the letter arrives. Our church is quite large, so most times it is possible that our paths have never crossed, but the person in charge of the ministry gives a little background information on the family's situation, along with their "Christmas List". After reading the letter, Robby and I cannot resist deciding to purchase everything we can find on the children's lists. And it is NOT all about the gifts, but about living in the Spirit of the True Meaning of Christmas. Once we have made phone contact with the parents to let them know that their childrens' "Santa Claus" has been taken care of for the year, you can hear gratitude, relief and a bit of disbelief in their voices. THAT is what makes the Christmas season complete for us.
This year the family chosen for us was one where several woes had befallen them. There was the young mother, father and three children; the youngest with Down's Syndrome. The father had lost his job this year and was currently training for a new one. The mother, because of caring for a special needs child, did not work. The entire family had moved in with the grandparents because of their situation. We loaded up and all that were in town traveled to deliver the presents that would be snuck under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.
As we arrived and began loading our arms with gifts, the young mother and father met us outside with smiles on their faces. As we sat everything down in the hall to be hidden in the attic, I saw tears rolling down the mother's face. She said, "I told myself I was going to try not to cry, but I just can't help it." I reached over and gave her a big hug as she expressed her gratitude to me and my family. I cannot begin to imagine being in this young family's situation. Life is overwhelming for them and I realize that it is only by the grace of God that we aren't in that same situation. However, HE has made it possible for my family to be able to provide a small bit of "Christmas Magic" for someone else. I hope that we will always be able to share God's love in this manner during this blessed season that we call Christmas.
It truly IS more blessed to GIVE than to receive...