Thank God I wasn’t visited on Christmas Eve by a soul shackled for all eternity by the sins of his past. There weren’t any ominous warnings by past, present and future ghosts. A Grinch didn’t steal everything under the tree to remind me that presents, decorations and stockings are not what Christmas is all about. The immortal words of Charles Dickens and Dr. Seuss pack an important message. It’s never too late for Scrooge and Grinch epiphanies, and everyone deserves a second chance in life.
It’s rather shameful how much emphasis I used to place on the gifts I got, and worse, how often they went unappreciated. Remarkable I wasn’t always thankful that I’ve actually never needed anything. I’ve wanted things, but there’s a big difference. I’ve always had a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clean water to drink. I never needed a sweater, a hat, a warm coat or a pair of gloves, but there are thousands of people who do. These are not gifts of fashion for them, they are gifts of warmth.
I don’t recall my personal epiphany, but the Christmases I have had since have been more meaningful. Whenever and for whatever miraculous reason, I finally understand the true meaning of Christmas.
I don’t want Christmas presents anymore. If anyone so inclined to give me a present, I ask them to give a gift to charity instead. These gifts have been the most precious of my life.
There were women in addiction recovery that had no money to buy their children Christmas presents. My daughter took them shopping for toys, and they wrote me letters of thanks I found impossible to read through the waterfall of my tears. There was a sizable donation to help women in third world countries to help them start businesses so they can feed their families. A gift to the Belize Humane Society went to help the starving dogs that tugged at my daughter’s heart. My nieces donated to a Cambodian school built on a dump and they have given to other important environmental and humanitarian causes. Habitat for Humanity has received donations to rebuild homes. Checks have been written to foundations that help struggling people. Cancer research has been fueled with funds and homeless have been helped.
These gifts of love, compassion, and charity have filled my heart.
This year I received a bonus, so I used some of it to help people in a low-income trailer park. They have little and they are in desperate need. I was feeling rather magnanimous, until I was humbled by an incredible story.
A friend’s housekeeper is a mother of five from Guatemala. A few weeks ago, she asked my friend if she could run an errand and go to the bank. My friend took the opportunity to surprise her with a Christmas bonus. When her housekeeper returned, she thanked my friend for her generous gift. The housekeeper’s eyes were misty when she explained that she had already pledged to send money to her church back home but when she received the unexpected Christmas bonus, she was able to do more. She sent all of the money to the needy people of her Guatemalan congregation.
Mom and I went to church this morning and, no surprise, the sermon was about giving. The priest said the lesson of Christmas is about giving to others and he reminded us that love can only be kept by giving it away.
Merry Christmas. I hope you never truly need anything for Christmas, but that you’ll always want to give to those who do.