My best Christmas memory doesn’t have much to do with writing or editing. But it has a lot to do with a few people who reached out to a struggling single mom and her two kids to make Christmas special and to show them the love of Jesus. And it is that mom and her struggles that I keep in mind when I’m writing, hoping that my words carry her away for just a few minutes—because that’s all she has for herself—to a place where she can join someone else’s world and forget about hers for a moment.
Here’s her story.
It had been a hard year. She had told the kids not to expect much for Christmas. She hadn’t been getting any child support. One of her clients and gone under and hadn’t paid her. A significant amount of money that was not only supposed to go towards Christmas, but December and January bills as well. She could get her kids one gift each and the bills still wouldn’t be paid.
She got a call from the church secretary saying someone wanted to adopt a family for Christmas and would they be willing to be adopted. She was a bit surprised because she hadn’t shared much of her story with anyone, but a few people knew they’d had a hard year. So she agreed, but she didn’t tell the kids. She didn’t want to get their hopes up in case it fell through.
The church secretary called back a couple weeks later to ask when she wanted to pick up the gifts. There were eight boxes.
“Oh, that’s nice,” she thought. “The kids will get four presents each. That’s really sweet.”
“Eight boxes two feet by two feet,” the secretary continued. “The pile is up to my shoulders. Plus they’re bringing you food for Christmas dinner.”
She was so stunned she couldn’t speak.
She finally told her kids that someone had adopted them for Christmas and that they were going to pick up the gifts at church. When they walked into the room, Sissy’s face lit up. “Mom, this is exactly what we prayed for! God took care of us!”
The mom started to cry.
It took two trips with a hand truck plus several more trips carrying food and their little Jetta was overflowing. Food sat on the back window and under the kids’ feet. They couldn’t have gotten one more thing in that car.
When they unloaded the presents and put them around the tree, they had to be stuffed into every nook and cranny. She’d never seen so many presents in all her life.
What was amazing was how much time and thought was put into the gifts. It wasn’t just a matter of spending money. Clearly whoever bought the gifts knew her kids enough to know their tastes. Plus, there were homemade cookies and hand-knitted afghans for each of them. They even got gifts for the mom.
We always hear how it’s more blessed to give than receive. But in Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller makes the observation that it can be hard to receive because it implies need, and we don’t like to be needy people. We like to be the ones who have the surplus to give from.
It’s hard to accept other people’s help. But the Bible says to tell of the Lord’s wonders and faithfulness. Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did.”
Because, bottom line, this is about God and His faithfulness. He provided. Not just for their needs, like He’s promised to do. But for some of their wants as well. And abundantly. What a wonderful lesson for those children.
And me too. Because I was that mom.
It’s humbling to receive generosity, even when you need it. I’d like to think that with every book I write, I’m giving a little bit of that back to every mom out there who is where I was, to anyone alone and struggling and hurting. Especially this time of year.
Take a moment to give someone a hug, a plate of cookies, a warm drink. Look around to see if you can meet a need. Or accept a bit of generosity. Take a sacred pause in the middle of this busy season to give, to receive, to bless, and be blessed.
I don’t know who adopted us for Christmas. I do know they will be rewarded in heaven, but I also hope they’ll get some little reward here on earth too.