Merry belated Christmas to you if you celebrate. If you don’t, happy everything day!
I was about six-years-old when I experienced my first “Christmas Miracle” and even being that young, I knew we didn’t have money. I didn’t think too much about it.
My clothes were sometimes hand-me-downs but mostly hand-made by my mother with fabric donated by the local church.
I was a happy kid. Quiet. Artistic and I loved to draw and paint.
I was also very aware. I knew when people were sad or angry and I often kept to myself in my own little world where I could safely observe everything around me.
At Christmastime, our favorite thing to do was enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and looking at the multi-colored lights on our second-hand silver aluminum tree while my mom read our favorite book, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
The delightfully awkward tree stood about three-feet-tall but my mom cleverly put it on top of a table so it appeared taller and we could gaze at the lights reflecting all over the room.
It was Christmas Eve.
I didn’t notice any presents under the tree.
What I do remember was the subtle angst.
My mom is excellent at figuring things out and pulling things off out of thin air to provide birthdays and holidays. I knew something was wrong but wasn’t sure why and wasn’t sure how I could fix it.
(It was years later that I learned she would often stay up all night sewing dolls and clothing for the kids after we had gone to sleep to make sure we had Christmas presents.)
My dad was working graveyards at a nearby manufacturing plant like he did most nights.
There we were, reading our favorite book sipping our watered-down cocoa.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Why was someone knocking at the door?
My mom’s worried look on her face changed to confusion, “Who could that be?”
We opened the door just a little and peered through the small opening wondering who in the world was there.
Then we flung the door wide open to take in the site of our porch that had been miraculously filled with food and gifts.
The spectacular sight was amplified by my brother and I hugging each other, jumping up and down and squealing with delight.
My mom just stood there barely believing that the boxes full of items that were for US and it yes, it was REAL!
As we oohed and awed over every single item, my mom’s face that was once ridden with the worry of how she was going to provide Christmas for her kids, was filled with pure gratitude.
She kept smiling through the tears running down her cheeks. She kept clutching her hand to her heart and doing her best not to do the ugly cry. She still does this move when she’s deeply touched by something.
I knew that she prayed for a miracle. Her prayers were answered by someone following their inspiration and went out of their way to create a memory for my family that to this day, we still talk (and cry) about.
Every Christmas I think about that day. It’s the Christmas miracle that continues to mold me into who I am today: the person who believes that there are more people who are kind at heart and love wins than there are not-so-good people.
It inspires me to be the person who looks for a family to contribute to every Christmas so they could have that experience that I had all those years ago – not about the presents per se but the experience of being acknowledged, heard, seen and supported – just because.
In a time of year where I can struggle with the lack of sunshine and over-commercialized consumerism, I go back to what’s important:
- Creating my own traditions that mean something to me vs doing things out of obligation or what history or religion has told me is what I “should” do for the holidays
- Spending time with the people who celebrate me and SEE me + more importantly, nurturing relationships with those people.
- Enjoying the simplicity of the holidays and every day.
- Looking for ways to give back year-round not just once a year.
I can look back through many experiences in my life that deeply changed me for the better and in every single case, I was acknowledged, seen and heard in some way.
I take to heart how I can be that space for others who are finding their way. Aren’t we all finding our way?
And when I have those moments that I wonder if humanity is indeed kind and loving, I look for people doing good like this woman: (one last story that you’ll be glad you read)
A woman was working at the Boys and Girls Club, an after-school program for kids, when she noticed that on Friday, one of the students who was about 8-years-old went into the pantry where they kept the snacks and was stealing food.
Rather than reprimanding the little girl, the woman asked some questions and found out that the little girl was taking food home for her and her younger brother so they would have something to eat on the weekend.
You see, during the week, the girl got lunch at school and a snack at the after-school program.
The woman did some more investigating and had the opportunity to speak with the girl’s father.
When she met with the girl’s father the first things she noticed was how thin he was. The belt cinched his pants around his waist as if those pants once fit, but now they don’t.
The woman found out that the family lived in their car and was now in an apartment but money for food was scarce. When the little girl asked him why he wasn’t eating with her and her brother, his reply was, “parents don’t eat on the weekends.” It was his way of letting her know that it was okay to eat her food and he was okay.
After seeing this, the woman started a backpack program for kids in the after-school program.
How it works is through donations and volunteers, backpacks are filled with food and sent home with each kid on Fridays. The backpacks are brought back on Mondays and the process repeats.
One person chose to do something.
She collects items for about 60 backpacks a week.
This woman is a member of the writing group my husband belongs to. The kids and family she serves are people in my community.
Ever since hearing this story, I am reminded of how EASY it is to be kind and do one simple thing that could make someone feel heard, seen, acknowledged, and supported.
Maybe it’s a kind word. Or opening the door for someone. Or pausing before thinking you know someone’s story and just loving them instead of judging them.
Maybe it’s starting a project like the backpack project. Or donating time or money.
Or praying for someone.
You matter. Your work matters. The contribution of your gifts, talents, and expertise matters.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for being in the world sharing your gifts. And may your year ahead bring magic, ease, and prosperity!