It’s almost Christmas. And I’m not crying. I really thought I would have been this year. You see, I lost my job of ten years last August and my world went spiraling out of control. Was I scared? You bet. I was petrified. How would I pay for my house? Feed my kids? Put Christmas presents under the tree? Who would help me?
I was very surprised who did and didn’t, and these surprises taught me a few things.
First off, my mom was right. She was. I have to admit it. My brother and I used to fight like cats and dogs and she’d tsk at us, telling us, “One day you will be each other’s best friends.” We looked at her like she was crazy, then made faces at each other and went right on fighting. But she was right. More than anyone, my brother was there for me like no one else. And I admit it. He is my best friend. I never saw that one coming.
You know who else was there when I needed them? People I really didn’t know. Which taught me there are still truly good people in the world, something I really needed to know during this ordeal. Authors I didn’t really know read a few tweets I’d posted about being upset after getting off the phone with my mortgage company and bought my books, then suggested all their followers buy the books. It didn’t really drum up a lot of sales, but it touched my heart and gave me hope, which was batter than the royalties I would have gotten. Another author I’d met through my publisher, but never physically met, offered to send gift cards for gas or food, and offered to help me get Christmas presents for my kids. Fortunately, by then the unemployment had come in, but the thought of someone I barely knew offering something so generous… I really needed that.
And, my faith was reaffirmed more than ever, because through it all I prayed to be able to keep a roof over my kids’ heads and food in their stomachs. God came through, as always. Even when he worked through strangers.
I now have a Christmas tree put up and it is loaded up with presents. My children will not be disappointed on Christmas morning, but the greatest gift they received this year, was something you can’t put under the tree. They learned the most valuable lesson you can learn this time of year: That it is better to give than to receive.
We usually give some coins to the Salvation Army as we pass them on our way into the grocery store, but this year we gave bills. Ones. Fives, whatever. Why? Because at one point we didn’t have them, but now we do. We aren’t rich, but we have food on the table and gifts under our tree. We don’t need the few extra bills in our pockets.
And this year we didn’t just buy gifts for our loved ones. We went to the store and the kids each picked out a present they would love for themselves… and we took those toys to the firestation. The kids walked in and put the toys in the Toys For Tots bin and were told by the firemen how much their donations were appreciated.
My oldest came out, sat in the car, and said, “I can’t believe how good that felt. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good in my life. This is the best thing we’ve ever done at Christmas.”
They got it. At such a young age, they got IT. After knowing what it was like to worry about not having anything, they understood the importance of helping those who need it. They learned the beauty of giving to someone you don’t know, and they learned gratitude.
They learned that Christmas is not about the presents, but the faith, hope, and love that is shared and celebrated.
You know, I probably will cry this year, but happy tears. My children learned a valuable lesson about generosity that they will hopefully teach their own children, and I can take pride in that. And though I’ll be sad as I think about my daddy who passed away and can no longer celebrate with us, I know my Father in heaven carried me through this year and I can always find solace in the fact that that one will always be with us, every day, every moment, of our lives. And even though I have yet to be hired elsewhere, I know it will be alright. God will take care of us, even if he sometimes chooses to get to us through strangers.
Merry Christmas & God Bless!