One thing my parents were really great at was making sure that we always knew how lucky and blessed we were to have so many comforts of life. We lived in a nice home, and enjoyed our share of extras, but along with that, we always knew that the very best gift was the one we gave away. Every year my parents spent a portion of our Christmas budget on a family that desperately needed a Christmas miracle. One of my favorite Christmas memories is making the yearly trip to the "bad" parts of Chicago. We usually left very early in the morning (my dad thought it would be safer then) drove the forty five minutes, and delivered Christmas to an unsuspecting family. We filled entire rooms with gifts. That's not saying we brought too many gifts, just showing how different their circumstances were. We rode on elevators that reeked of urine and went into apartments where children in ripped tee shirts slept on couches. We placed presents under Charlie-brown-esque trees that had nothing below them. As children, we were not sheltered from the hardships that others were facing, and for that I thank my parents. I can only imagine what we must have looked like: six young, white, children, walking around the projects carrying bags of gifts. We were such an easy target, yet the only people who approached us were neighbors or friends of the family we selected offering assistance.
I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of making a miracle happen for a few families. It was and still is one of the greatest possible gifts you can ever receive; the joy that comes with serving others. The Christlike love you are able to have for a complete stranger. To me, that is Christmas.
BDEM: the youth group I work with at church did a sub for Santa for a local family. They purchased and wrapped the gifts, and tonight I was able to deliver them to the family in need. It took me back to the jobless spell we went through. It was a time of uncertainty, and I was worried about what Christmas would or would not hold for my children. I am grateful for the chance I had to play a small part on helping this family, and for the reminder it brings that all families are not as lucky as us this Christmas. We truly are blessed.