i'm a humbug.
that's the reality of it. i don't like the christmas season. i've probably been jaded by too many years working retail during this blessed holiday event. i don't like decorations, or christmas carols, or ho-ho-ho's. i am annoyed to no end by my family's x-mas tree (it's an artificial tree; christ isn't in it). i really don't like the excessive marketing that takes place, i hate having to ever venture to a mall for a valid purpose, much less for some trivial present that someone will forget in six weeks, if not sooner.
maybe that's what i don't like about christmas - the fleeting nature of it. i don't like the gifts that don't fit, or are impractical, or are just so materialistic in nature. give me a gift that means something. give me a gift that will stay in my heart long after this season has passed. i want a gift that will last for years, that i can take with me.
this year, the family cut back on our gifts to each other, and we made a family contribution to the building fund. our young adult group raised almost $1000.00 between thanksgiving and christmas to take boxes of food to 18 needy families that we've been working with and praying for. this last saturday, my dad and i and brother and a few other people from the group went out, visiting these homes in a neighborhood our YA group has adopted, and it was heart-wrenching to see how they responded.
as we approached some of the homes, the children would come running out to meet us at the car. we had presents for some, turkeys for others, and food and bread for them all. at each house, though, we asked if we could pray. children were gathered from throughout the entire house, hushed, and we prayed. we went to one house, superman's house, and there were about 10 kids there. the parents weren't home, but superman, the obvious ringleader, helped us unload, and then gathered the kids together, and informed them it was time to pray. he smacked one of the other kids upside the head and said, "shut up! we're praying!" i liked superman.
we went to another house, took in a box of food, and she was dancing, so thankful that we had brought what, honestly, wasn't more than a week or so worth of food, and as we brought in the presents from the church for her kids, she started crying, and then proceeded to give us all hugs. little brother took the presents in, put them under the meager tree, and one of the little boys gave him a pen with a star on the end, and told him, "this is your christmas present." evan is treasuring that pen.
this morning, dad and i stood in the foyer of the church and played christmas carols on our horns. this evening, we went to our neighbor's houses, and played christmas carols around the neighborhood. we visited some friends from work, my mom's boss, friends from years ago ... every house we went to, people came running out to hear us. teenagers would run to the door and belly laugh, so tickled to have someone christmas carol. little children would press their faces against the front windows and the storm door, smiling and singing along. other families stood with tears in their eyes, thanking us for making their christmas season.
i don't know what's in those brightly wrapped boxes under the tree. i don't know what i'll unwrap tomorrow. but nothing will be able to compare to seeing the faces of the children when we brought them food, or even a little bit of christmas cheer. next year for christmas, buy one less gift for people who have everything, and take a meal to a family that has nothing. i promise, your christmas will never be the same.
the greatest gifts i've ever received are the gifts i've given.