The Christmas We Gave Away
What a year we had had! A new baby daughter, a job promotion for my husband, and a brand-new home were among many blessings we had received and for which my husband and I were grateful.
We wanted no gifts for Christmas, because our cups were running over. But we knew our children still anticipated Christmas morning and gifts from Santa. We were concerned about giving the children too much. How could they learn to appreciate what they had if they just kept receiving more?
At family home evening we talked about doing something special for someone else at Christmas. Our oldest son said, “Why don’t we find a family who needs help and give them presents?”
Soon all of us were excited about the idea. We decided to do our project anonymously. We didn’t know exactly how we would find our “Christmas family,” but we did know we wanted to help.
The next morning I made calls to friends who might know of someone in need. That evening at dinner I described the family I had found. The father was a carpenter and out of work. They had three children, one the same age as our new baby. Their baby had been undergoing many tests as doctors tried to determine why she wasn’t developing properly. Because the family had no insurance, their savings were gone, and with those savings had gone the prospect of having gifts at Christmas.
“Can we give them some of our clothes?” asked our daughter. We all agreed that her idea was good, and so the children ran to their bedrooms and began sorting out the clothes they had outgrown. But my husband and I knew that clothes were not enough.
The following day my husband asked the children if they would like to buy a special present for each member of our Christmas family. Excitement reigned as we departed for an evening of holiday shopping.
By family home evening the following week, we were ready to deliver gifts, clothing, and oranges to our Christmas family. But before we left, my husband gathered the children and said, “It sure is great to see all of you so excited to share your Christmas. Do you realize that by buying these gifts and this food, you are giving up part of your own Christmas?”
The children had not thought of their project that way before. Their eyes widened as their father took out a crisp, 100-dollar bill.
“Do you think we should give this money to the parents so they can buy other things they need?” he asked. “And do you understand that your Christmas will be very small this year because you are sharing it?”
Each of the children grinned and nodded. We tucked the money into a Christmas card and addressed the envelope to “Our Friends.” Then we were off to deliver Christmas to our special family.
We parked the car up the street from the house and planned our delivery strategy. Within seconds, it was all accomplished. We pulled away just as the door opened.
That evening, as we said our family prayer, our minds and hearts were truly one. Christmas was still a week away, but we felt we had just had ours.
The next morning the phone rang. “Just thought you’d like to know about a family that received a special gift last night,” my friend said. “They had been wondering if they should use their last twenty dollars to pay their tithing, or if they should keep it, because Christmas was nearing and they had no more money. They decided to pay their tithing. Last night their doorbell rang, and when the husband opened the door he found packages of clothes, gifts, and food. The next morning they noticed a white envelope on the floor, and when they opened it, a 100-dollar bill fell out. They know it was the Lord’s way of blessing them for paying their tithing, and their hearts are full of gratitude.”
I tearfully related the message to my husband and children. We felt we had already been blessed just by giving. To know that we had been the Lord’s instruments for a moment that special evening made us realize the true value of our Christmas project. Though the gifts under our tree were few, we had never been blessed with such abundance at Christmas.