Merry Christmas Everyone!!! (is three exclamation marks too many? I am having a Seinfeld’s episode flashback… I had better not use my exclamation marks so haphazardly ) For Christmas I would like to share a very personal story and if you don’t want to read my story I am including some random Christmas pictures of my family… hopefully the story or the pictures will making visiting my blog worth your time.
Sam (my oldest son) asked me what my favorite Christmas present was… and added an emphasis of “ever”. I am old so he thinks “ever” is close to forever ago. I remember very well what my favorite Christmas present was and I have decided to try to share that with everyone here. I have to go back many years… I must have been 6 or 7 years old. (I don’t have an exact memory so I apologize if I don’t have all of the facts exactly as they were… I do promise to write here exactly how I recall things so many years ago and in the way my young mind perceived things during that very special Christmas)
That year, I remember when mom and dad brought home the Christmas tree and it being so small that we could put it on top of the television. I don’t remember that being a “bad” thing… maybe size back then didn’t really member. I have a very clear memory of making “stain glass” cookies with my sister and brother. Stain glass cookies were basically sugar cookies formed in the typical Christmas shapes. The center was cut out and we would place crushed life savers in the middle. When they were cooked the lifesavers would melt and create “stained glass” in the middle. We decorated the tree with these cookies and if I remember correctly one night our dog ate them all. (Sorry I diverge… I will get back to the story)
Every Christmas eve we would visit my “Oma and Opa” who invited the whole family. All of my aunts, uncles, and cousins would come and we would celebrate Christmas eve together with a large family meal… some singing… and even a family quarrel once in while. I remember we would open one present and then come home late at night to try to get some sleep before Santa came with all of our gifts and presents. This time coming home was different. I could feel that something was wrong… my parents were acting weird.
I was wondering if I or my siblings had done something wrong and we were about to get into trouble. My father began to speak and I didn’t hear anger I heard sadness. I remember feeling bad for him and I noticed how sad my mother looked. We were than informed that Santa was not “actually real” and that this year had been a very difficult year financially for my parents. My parents told us that this Christmas there would not be presents in the morning because they could not afford to buy us any. I was disappointed… and I was really sad. I was not just sad for myself but also for my parents. I think I felt (maybe for the first time) true empathy for what must have been a horribly difficult time for them.
I think the rest of the ride home was very quiet. My young mind was already starting to adjust expectations and cope with the fact that not only did the “magic” of Christmas not exist but that I had already opened my only present that year. We arrived home to our very humble apartment and as we arrived near the door I realized I could not see the door at all. Amazingly there were presents stacked so high and wide that our door was no longer visible. In fact it took us several minutes to make room enough just to get through the pile of gifts and enter into the apartment. I was thrilled (obviously) but had to wait until morning to open the gifts that were left for me… in fact for all of us that special night.
I have had many presents through out the years and have forgotten most of them. I haven’t forgotten what I got that morning. I got a helicopter that would fly around in a circle and you controlled it with one lever that would make it go up and down and another that would make it go forward and backwards. I found a YouTube video of the helicopter and I will share that with you since I am probably explaining it horribly.
This helicopter was awesome… but not my favorite gift. That night I was given a gift much more special. I was given back the gift of “Christmas magic”. I don’t know who gave it to me… somebody in my neighborhood…. maybe my church… maybe even strangers… regardless… whomever did this wonderful act touched me deeply. They made me feel cared about… made me feel loved. What a priceless gift and the only way I have been able to say thank you is by trying to pay it forward all these years since.
I hope all of us remember how fortunate we are and that we should find ways to bring the gift of magic (love) into the lives of those less fortunate than us or those who may be struggling during this time of year.
Merry Christmas everyone… May you all feel the true love of Christ and help others by sharing it!