I remember it as if it were yesterday even though it was probably almost 40 years ago.
I received a phone call from our church administrator. He asked me if I could be available to do something for him. He went on to share there was a single mother with two small children (a boy and a girl) who were likely not going to have any Christmas gifts that year. He said I came to mind for what he had in mind and wondered if I would go shopping for the children and wrap the gifts as well. He told me I could pick up $100 cash at the office and noted the ages of the children as well.
We were not wealthy, but there had always been presents under the tree.
My immediate response was “yes!” Even though there was a great deal of other shopping to be done, this idea excited me and I hoped the Lord would show me what to buy for each child even though I knew nothing about the children except their ages.
So many years ago others had sought for the kind of gift to give the Christ-child. It was not the same and yet I felt a little closer to that story as I considered the shopping trip ahead.
I invited our daughter to go along with me on the adventure and shared with her what we would be doing. I knew she would be a great help and likely have some incredible ideas. As we drove to the store, we both agreed that we wanted to find as many things as we could since these might be the only part of Christmas these children would have. I reminded our daughter we would look for good sales, but also things we would like if we were the one receiving these things.
Up and down the aisles we went pausing and thinking about an array of options including fun and practical items. The Lord must have smiled on us that afternoon because it seemed our shopping cart was nearly full even though we did not have a great deal to spend.
Perhaps that was one of the lessons to learn from this unexpected opportunity. Limited cash and not knowing the persons caused us to seek the Lord’s direction, put more thought into the process, and consider what gifts would most bless. So often shopping for a gift becomes just another task on the list and we hope to get it done as soon as we can. This was different and I think it impacted my gift shopping to the present as a result.
As we were reaching the end of our budget, our daughter had another idea that brought tears to my eyes when she suggested it. She said, “I think we need to get something for their mom too, even if it is something small.” The church administrator had not suggested that, but I couldn’t have agreed more. It would surprise and delight the children as well as the mom. There was no question this mother rarely had anyone do something special for her.
Off we went in search of something for the mother and soon we found a soft, warm, cozy robe that had been marked down to an amount that was exactly what we had left in the budget.
As we stepped outside into the snowy afternoon with our shopping bags filled, warmth filled our hearts for this special outing. As we later wrapped the gifts, we wondered what they would think when they opened them. We knew we would never know, but that was part of what made it special as well.
Sometimes it can be easier to write a check or drop money in a red kettle if we think of blessing someone in need, but nothing can compare to the assignment we received and how honored we felt to be asked.
It reminded me as well of how my mother shared that when she was a very little girl growing up near the end of WW I, the most special gift she and her two sisters received one year was a fresh orange.
As we consider our shopping and the gifts we want to buy, how can we capture the essence of the Lord as the Giver of the very BEST Gift?
Can we be more like Him this year…no matter what our budget?