When you’re young, there aren’t many other things you get excited for that compare to getting gifts at Christmastime. You wait all year long for the chance to get ready for bed, set out some milk and cookies, and sleep as little as possible so you can wake up and see all your new gifts. When I think back to when I was young, that’s really all I remember. The enthusiasm. I can hardly recall the actual gifts, even though I know I must have been thrilled the Christmases I got my pink Barbie Corvette, my Nintendo, and a shiny new bike. (I actually don’t even know if those were actual Christmas gifts, I just know I received them at one point or another!)
But I can also remember times during my childhood when gifts were extremely hard to come by. There were some years where the best my mother could manage was to make sure we had a roof over our heads and shoes on our feet. (Payless of course, there was none of those fancy L.A. gear high-tops in our household). During some of those years, Christmas gifts were a luxury that really didn’t fit into the budget. Of course that’s a hard thing to try and explain to kids. Not only did I not fully comprehend what living paycheck to paycheck really meant, I certainly didn’t grasp how that could effect my gift getting. I was okay with not having much, but a Christmas with no presents would have been devastating.
During one of these particularly hard years, I believe when I was around 8 or 9, our gifts for Christmas were given to us by the Church. I don’t remember many of the details, just that I had a gift wrapped in shiny paper with my name on it. My gift was this fantastic tray of crayons that included just about every color imaginable. I’d never seen so many crayons in one place in my lifetime. I probably couldn’t pronounce Cerulean, but I sure did have that crayon in my collection. And I could now draw flowers in Dandelion, instead of just simply yellow.
The memory of that gift has stuck with me for over 20 years. I couldn’t even tell you a gift I received last Christmas but I can picture that tray of Crayons to a T. Back then I couldn’t truly appreciate people I didn’t personally know making sure my family had a holiday meal and gifts under our tree, but I do remember how it made me feel.
Of course Christmas is not about giving gifts. Jesus wasn’t particularly concerned with my ability to take my coloring books to a whole other level. But I do know that people choosing to help others out of the kindness of their heart is something that Jesus is quite fond of. And I believe showing that type of compassion towards others goes a long way. I know this because I still remember those crayons. And so for those of you who take the time during the holiday season to drop off a toy at the toy drive, give a family a holiday meal, donate your time or your money, or whatever it is that you do, I just want to say thank you.
And if you have the ability to go outside your inner circle just a little this holiday season, just know that what little you do, has the capacity to have a far greater impact. It can be a blessing that lasts far beyond Christmas morning.