The holidays can be a hard time for a lot of people who have experienced the loss of someone dear to them. It seems the holidays remind us of times that have passed where the loved one was included and the reminder of their absence is more clear, more evident, more real when their seat is vacant.
However, I have also noticed during this time of year, when the sting of heartache rings, the hearts of givers sing.
We see more “random acts of kindness”.
We see people adopting families in charitable giving.
We see churches open their doors even more to bring in the needy.
We see people serving others in food kitchens and shelters.
We see toy drives overflowing with gifts.
I was struck by a letter I received from a reader that I felt really captured the true Holiday Spirit of Giving. Enjoy!
“I remember a Christmas in 2006. My daughters were in Kindergarten and third grade. I was working part-time in a teen parents program and my husband was working in an urban youth program. We were living in a 900 sq. ft. apartment after my husband was laid off and we lost our house and car. We were thankful that we could sell the house before it was repossessed and we were able to get an affordable car for very little money. It was Christmas and we never put a ton of importance on the physical gifts. In fact, it was a time a year we gave back by serving. And yet, this was the first Christmas we had celebrated that I wasn’t sure if we would have the basics.
I sat down and prayed as I usually did in the morning. I also used a journal to write down who or what I prayed for because it was fun to go back and look and see what had changed, and hadn’t, during the year. It also put things in perspective as I would see what was bothering me at any given time and how small of an issue it turned out to be. This day, I wrote down, “God, today I pray for three things: 1. A Christmas Tree. 2. Tights for the girls. 3. Two presents under the tree for each of the kids.”
I went to my computer to begin writing. I worked part time, but when the kids were at school, I was working on writing a book. While I was writing, I typically listened to the radio, but today I was listening to a station I typically didn’t listen to. I’m not sure why other than I heard they were doing a special promotion- they were giving away Christmas trees. All I had to do was submit some brief information via e-mail to the station and they would pick winners from the submissions. Two days later I got a knock on my door and a Christmas tree was delivered. I still had Christmas lights and decorations from previous years and when my family got home that night, we decorated the tree and I cried in thankfulness.
Within the week, I got a call from my daughter’s school. They were calling to let me know that the school had been collected a variety of goods for the holidays to give to families in need. The woman on the other line said, “Could you use some tights for the girls?”
I was shocked. Of all the things she could have asked or provided, she had the thing I had specifically requested. I told her I could and she asked if I could use Christmas gifts. I began to cry and said “yes”. We had never received charity and never applied for it, because we knew we were ok and that we had enough. But I truly believe God wanted to show us that He cared for us. Needless to say, we got the three things I asked for that year. I remember that kindness, shared to us by complete strangers who know nothing of how powerful their giving effected our young family.
We are always taken care of.”
This holiday season, please remember you are taken care of. People want to show their kindness- give them the opportunity to.
Do you have a similar story? Share your story of hope here.