This is a tough holiday season for a lot of people and like a lot of others, we’re having to adjust our incomes to a new imposed lifestyle. My family, like many, have had to cut way back. This is my test. Can I walk the walk of what I’ve preached? Giving comes from the heart, not the wallet. It’s been much harder than I imagined. I’m so used to Christmas morning filled with lots of gifts under the tree. I didn’t realize that I really don’t know how to do Christmas differently. Ah so it is when I admit my inability to control a situation that the situation begins to teach me.
My daughter’s school has a tree in the lobby each holiday year. On the tree are ornaments for children who are less fortunate than others. This year the tree was covered with more decorations than I’ve seen in the five years my daughter has been going to school there. Each year we choose a child to buy for, but this year I was determined not to choose an ornaments; after all, I couldn’t do the child justice. We are on such a tight budget we can barely buy a few gifts. So, I’ve avoided entering the lobby for any reason. If I didn’t see the tree, I wouldn’t feel guilty.
My daughter had a chorus concert last night. Yes, this required me to enter the school through the lobby. The tree loomed in my side vision, but I stared straight ahead, even when my daughter pointed to it. “Hey mom, don’t forget our ornament.” How do you explain to your daughter that we can’t afford to help someone? I dodged her remark by hurrying down the hall so she would not be late. I didn’t look back. I refused to hear the tree’s whispers. I ran from the plea if you must know.
The chorus concert was beautiful and just what both my husband and me needed. The Christmas spirit was in the air. I was so caught up in the feeling I completely forgot the tree until we were smack dab in the middle of the lobby on our way to the car. I looked at the tree fully before I caught myself. It was still full of ornaments. Now, normally it would be almost bare this late in the season, but it looked as if everyone had the same feelings as me.
My daughter with all her energy danced over to the tree. “Mom, we have to get an ornament.”
My husband looked at me with his eyebrows raised. He thought my idea of not helping was going too far. It was written all over his face.
“I don’t think we can do a child justice this year, sweetie.” I whispered so that others wouldn’t hear my nice safe Scrooge response.
“But Mom,” Daughter plucked a red Christmas tree from the branches. “look at this one.” She put the ornament in my hand.
The label read: Seven year old girl wants a long sleeve shirt, size six.
My eyes filled with tears. A little seven year old girl wanted a long sleeve shirt for Christmas. That was it. Just a shirt. My heart cracked open on the spot.
“Can’t we buy her a shirt. I’ll give up one of my presents under the tree.” Daughter hugged me.
Needless to say, we took the ornament and I learned once again that giving is not about how many presents wait for you under the tree. It’s not about budgets and not being able to pay the light bill because you’ve been laid off. It’s about heart and what we are willing to give. And even if you think you don’t, you always have something to give.