I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. My favorite Christmas was as a 10-year-old girl. My dad was a school teacher, and we had at least 6 kids by then. We didn’t get many presents that year. I was old enough to realize we were poor and tried to put on a happy face so that mom didn’t feel any worse than she probably did for our meager gifts.
After we’d opened up presents, my mom left to visit a family in our church that had just emigrated from Nigeria. They had a large family like ours and were new to the area and didn’t know many people. Mom came back from visiting them and gathered us together. She told us that the Makani family (I’ve changed names) had NO Christmas at all—no tree, no gifts, no anything. She asked us to pick one of our own gifts and wrap it back up to give to one of the Makani children.
I will confess that I was quite upset by my mom’s request. I looked at my box of cherry chocolates, clothes that were obviously from a second hand store, and cheap nick nacks, and didn’t think I should have to sacrifice one of my presents. I’d barely gotten anything myself.
Not the greatest attitude.
So I picked my least favorite gift and wrapped it up, probably griping all the while. Mom and Dad got a small tree together with some decorations and then we kids took our gifts and went to deliver Christmas to the Makani family.
When I saw those children’s faces light up with joy at our simple gifts, I felt conflicting emotions. I was suddenly grateful Mom had made us give up some of what we had. Those kids were so thankful and happy, which made me even happier. But I also wished I hadn’t been selfish and held back my best. I wished I had given something better.
I’ve never forgotten that Christmas and my feelings. That was my first taste of Giving, and it felt so good. I’ve received some nice gifts since then, and they do make me excited…but nothing compared to that intense feeling of joy I had when I gave from my small possessions to someone more needy. The secret to having the best Christmas ever is to GIVE away something that is a sacrifice for you. Giving empowers one with joy.
May you enjoy what you receive this Christmas, but also look for opportunities to give. Even if you have little, you actually have a lot when you count yourself. So GIVE of yourself not only this week, but throughout 2013. Make the world a better place, and be happier. Merry Christmas!