I am always amazed at the immediate jump from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I am not quite there yet but Sunday definitely put me in the right spirit. First, a little background. Both of our girls work at the same restaurant in Salina. Jenna is a hostess and Hannah is a waitress. Both had picked up extra shifts over the Thanksgiving break to earn extra money for Christmas gifts. On Saturday, I spent the afternoon with some friends guilt-free since I knew both the girls were working a double shift that day. About 5:00 that afternoon Jenna called me to see where I was. I was actually on my way home but was surprised to hear from her. When I asked why she wasn't at work she told me she would explain it to me when I got home.
When I got home, she told me about a co-worker who has recently been evicted, has a 5 year old daughter and no real support system. As this young woman told Jenna, "How do you tell your five year old, 'Merry Christmas, honey, I got you a roof over your head?" The only money that she had was in her wallet which was recently stolen. Jenna listened with compassion, gave her the two shifts she was supposed to work this weekend so that she could have the extra money. As the story unfolded, I told Jenna that we could get the little girl a few things. In so many ways, Christmas is, after all, for children. My mother's heart (who was already feeling bad that I couldn't do 'enough' for my older girls) could not imagine a five-year-old with no gifts to open. In telling Jenna that, you would have thought I had just given her a big-ticket-item straight from her own wish list! She was so excited! We went to the restaurant Sunday afternoon to tell the mom that we could provide some gifts for her little girl. She cried with joy and relief.
Jenna and I continued the conversation when we got home. It was no longer about her co-worker, but instead was about the feeling that giving brings us; the joy we have and the inspiration we feel. Though giving is the theme for the Christmas season, we sometimes lose sight of why we celebrate and why we give. God loved us so much that He gave… of Himself. He gave us a person but we have gotten further and further away from giving of ourselves. Rather than giving our time, we give video games. Instead of sharing our heart we buy cds, clothing, gift cards, toys, jewelry, laptops or a variety of other items. It is because we love people that we want to buy them things but it is easy to give less and less of ourselves in the process. Jenna and I began talking about a little friendly competition… to see who could give the most during the month of December. How can we give of ourselves? How can we meet another's needs? How could we help another person this month? Could we afford a half hour or an hour out of our day to bless someone else? We both got totally excited about the possibilities! We truly felt the sheer joy of giving. We decided we would keep a journal at home too. I may call it "Ways We Gave" but will wait to see how the month unfolds. Jenna decided to create a group on Facebook and challenge everybody else to do the same. She wrote:
"So, I am challenging you to try to positively impact the life of one person in the month of December. My mom and I are going for a person a day, which makes 31 people this month, but do it however you'd like. Use this group as your journal to write down your stories or ideas, add pictures of how you helped people, and most importantly, have fun and get creative! So, instead of just receiving this year, let's give and make this holiday season great for everyone!"
She goes on to give practical ideas of how we can do that. We were excited about the idea all afternoon and evening! Now, just in the first 24 hours, more than seventy people have joined that Facebook group. It has already stretched beyond the state of Kansas. A number of colleges are represented as young people have signed on. Teachers have asked her about it. Mischelle, The Angel Company founder, has it on her blog. We may not fully comprehend the ripple effect that something like this has but are excited to be people who enjoy this holiday season because of what we were able to give, instead of because of what we received.
As Jenna wrote, "I think that if you do something for at least one person this December, you will find yourself receiving so much more than just presents this Christmas."
Here's to the "Spirit of Christmas" abounding in our hearts!