Once again, it is Christmas time. It is the time for rushing around from party to party, buying presents for everyone in the family and some who are not, sending cards to friends (and some we do not know but sent us a card last year), decorating our homes in spectacular ways, and, occasionally, remembering the true meaning of the season. As I get older, I find myself taking a few minutes to reflect on the many Christmases I have had the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. Despite the numerous ways we have celebrated Christmas as a family, the most meaningful have been when we have taken time to remember others and help when and however we could.
There is a story about a gentleman who, though he liked the true meaning of Christmas, did not like the commercial aspects of it. Since everyone in his family knew he felt this way, they were always looking to do something for others that would please him. The plan came together one year after their son’s wrestling team had a match with a team sponsored by an inner-city church. The young man’s team had new uniforms and all the equipment desired for a wrestling team. Unfortunately, the inner-city opposing team only had ragged tennis shoes and whatever they found to wear as uniforms — they did not even have wrestling headgear. The son’s team soundly defeated the other team, but the other team won the hearts of the crowd.
From this match, and for Christmas, the man’s wife decided to buy the inner-city team wrestling shoes, uniforms, and headgear that were delivered anonymously to the church. When the family opened their Christmas presents, there was a small, white envelope in the branches of the tree addressed to the father with a note from his wife explaining what she had done and that it was her Christmas gift to him. He was thrilled with the gift. From that year forward, there was always a white envelope in the Christmas tree for him describing some act of kindness the family had done and was giving him for Christmas.
One year, the wife almost did not put up a tree because her husband had died. She had second thoughts, though, and put up the tree; to honor her husband’s memory, she also placed her usual white envelope in it. Surprisingly, when she and their 3 children gathered to open presents on Christmas, there were 3 additional white envelopes in the tree! Without telling anyone, each of the 3 children had performed an act of kindness in honor of their late father for Christmas. The spirit of the man who disliked what Christmas had become had made a difference in his family that would be passed down from generation to generation. What great Christmas memories they were making.1
As we think about Christmas and this story, hopefully we can find a way to make a difference for those around us. Not only does this attitude of doing something for others have an influence on those who are being helped, it shows our family and friends the spirit of Christmas and the wonderful memories we can have when our hearts are in the right place. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!