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Christmas Her Way
Photo: Leroy Skalstad
Tonight I pulled out our family’s photo album to remember Christmases past. The pictures of Christmas 1996 when our daughter was three-years-old are priceless to me. There she is playing a wiseman in our church’s nativity play. Across the page are pictures of her with little friends singing carols at a retirement home and watching our town’s light parade. In others she’s enjoying the many activities I’d planned for our family that season. Yet the picture that means the most to me is one of her standing by our Christmas tree, holding bags of food. The picture means so much because it represents Christina’s plan for that Christmas, not mine.

That year, as I was cleaning in a back room of our house, I realized that for a three-year-old she was being much too quiet. When I walked into the kitchen I saw why. She’d gotten into the pantry and was busily filling brown paper bags with food.

“Christina, what are you doing?” I asked.

“I want to give hungry people food for Christmas!” she declared.

What Really Matters

My heart was touched. She was reminding me of what really mattered at Christmas. It wasn’t just about the decorating, baking, shopping or all the events. It was about sharing. It would have been so easy to let that moment pass by saying, “Honey, I don’t have time for this right now,” or “I need these things for our own meals.” But I knew I couldn’t.

Now both our hands were in the pantry as I let her choose what to give. On Christmas Eve my husband drove us around town because Christina wanted to choose which houses to leave the bags at.

“That house!” she said, pointing to one that looked run-down.

“That house has kids,” she said of another with toys in the yard.

So we wouldn’t get caught, I ran the bags to the porches while Christina watched from the car with glee. On the way home she imagined how excited people would be when they awakened Christmas morning to find food on their doorstep. I wasn’t so sure. Would people take food left by strangers? But then I realized that’s not what really mattered. What mattered was that we’d shared. What mattered was that our daughter had celebrated Christmas her way.

Whether you have children at home or live alone, this Christmas you can share in your town, too. You could adopt a single or elderly person for the season. Gather a caroling group and sing at your local hospital or retirement home. How about baking cookies and taking them to neighbors, or serving dinner at a shelter? Most malls display trees with names of local children who need gifts. Your pastor, police or fire departments, and Salvation Army probably have names of families who need help. The opportunities are endless!

Since we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, I can’t think of a better gift to give Him than the gift of you, giving to someone else.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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