It’s that time of year again! The month of celebrating Christ’s birth, of time with family and friends, sounds of Salvation Army bells and smells of wassail and Christmas cookies! A time to be generous. These are good things. Special things. Things that come from heart as we become more and more aware of our own blessings.
As we think about giving and blessing others I’d like to share a story with you. A true story. A story of a single, low-income Mom, who had little to spend at Christmas time. This story was told to my co-worker by this Mom, 20 years after the event occurred. As she shared her story, she was obviously still upset, still humiliated and, after all these years, still couldn’t get the feelings of failure off of her heart.
This small, struggling family didn’t have a lot for Christmas, but the Mom was determined to have enough to purchase one special gift for each of her children. They wouldn’t be expensive, but she knew each one of them would love what she had in mind for them. A couple of days before Christmas, well-meaning people from a local church knocked on their door and showered the family many Christmas gifts. These extra gifts were a fun surprise for the children, but a painful reminder to their Mom of her lack of ability to purchase anything more than the small gifts under the tree. When Christmas came, her children halfheartedly opened the one special gifts their Mom had sacrificed to give to them as they paled in comparison to the gifts the church people had dropped off to them.
Clearly, the gift givers had big hearts. But, maybe the cost of the good feelings they received from giving to a family in need came at the price of this Mom’s dignity. Here we are, 20 years later, and she is still struggling with the feelings she’s carried with her all of these years.
Does this mean we should stop being generous? Absolutely not! There are options to just giving things to others that might cause more harm than good. Would you like an opportunity to give parents the gift of dignity, the opportunity for each parent to provide for their own families, just like you and I? Emerald Youth Foundation is still collecting toys for their Christmas Store. Here, families who need a little assistance are able to shop for their own families, choose what they might like and have the amazing feeling that we all enjoy when we purchase our children gifts, wrap them up and put them under the tree. And ultimately parents will have that wonderful feeling of the presents under the tree being bought by themselves and not someone else. What a special gift this Christmas season!
Remember, you cannot give a greater gift than the gift of dignity.