Posts Tagged ‘True Meaning of Christmas’


       Jane decided to cancel Christmas this year. Too bad no one else was.  If only she could ignore the classic movies and the endless commercials on TV, not to mention the lights and decorations along the streets, in the stores, down the grocery aisles…. Every candy cane, angel and jolly little elf flipped her stomach. It seemed it all started earlier and earlier every year.

        Buy, buy buy. That’s all Christmas had become. She and her four children were eking by okay. There were a few dollars left at the end of each month for a day at the movies, or dinner out, or maybe a new piece of clothing.  But she didn’t have a credit card and she couldn’t afford to line a Christmas tree skirt with presents. Hey, she couldn’t afford the price of a Christmas tree—yikes! She shuddered as she walked past the lot of evergreens for sell.

       The damp, chilled air whipped through her coat. She snugged the collar closer to her neck as she walked to the bus stop. She drudged through her daily routine ignoring the escalated chatter and the smidgen of tinsel and bling several people added to their desks. The poster of Betsy’s Chihuahua dressed in a Santa suit and panting for a candy cane almost made her lose her appetite. Ugh.  May as well forget packing a lunch until after the holidays. Then again, maybe she’d be the one individual in the U.S. to actually lose weight during December. 

       Thank goodness she worked for a company that frowned on Christmas parties and gift exchanges. Ever since three guys in the accounts payable department got plastered on spiked eggnog and printed everyone’s bonus with an extra zero in it…. Would she get a bonus this year? The company had been Scrooge-like the past two holidays. When she began to work there eleven years ago everyone used to get a gift certificate for a 15 pound turkey and a week’s pay. Two days before Christmas Eve, Jane woke with a stone bouncing in her gut. An envelope with the company logo lay on her computer keyboard. Inside was a twenty dollar bill in a glitzy card that sang Jingle Bells

         No matter. She stuffed it in her purse. Besides, her kids were all too old to get excited about Santa, reindeer and stockings. Being ages ten through fourteen, she didn’t expect any of them to crawl blurry-eyed from their bed covers until at least 11 am. Well, maybe you never get too old for stockings. Perhaps the dollar discount store?

         Jane pushed the wobbly-wheeled grocery cart through the aisles. You could hear the squeak-thunk-squeak three aisles over. She scrunched down as she browsed, ignoring the eyes that followed her. One lady actually curled her lip and rolled her eyes. Okay, so you never get the one with the shaky wheels? Happy holidays to you, too.

     Perhaps she could afford to buy a bag of chocolates and a box of candy canes to share. And a pair of socks for each of them. How about a 5,000 piece puzzle they could put together Christmas morning? Would that be too lame?

   Hey, frozen pizzas were buy one get one free. She could heat up the pizzas and they’d crowd around on the floor of the living room putting the puzzle together, each wearing their new socks, stuffing their faces with pepperoni and chocolates.  That might work. Jane couldn’t think of the last time all four of them spent a whole day together. The kids were always so busy. Jed had band and soccer, Josie ballet, Jeremy had little theatre, and Jez had volleyball and choral. 

   The store was jam-packed with shoppers. So many people, so much noise. Jane watched the woman in front of her load toys, candy, wrapping paper, junk food, and clothes onto the conveyor belt. Then she grabbed six $50 gift cards! Jane stared into the floor with a clamped jaw to keep from it swinging open in amazement. How could people rack up their credit card bills like that?  It’d take her all year to pay off that stuff—if she had one, that is.  No thank you. Not exactly a “ho,ho, ho” way to spend Christmas to her. More like “owe, owe, owe.”

As she walked to the bus, her store bags dangling from her arm, a man handed her a flyer.  “Mission Gospel needs YOU. Come help feed the less fortunate and homeless Christmas afternoon from 1-4. Share in eggnog, carols, stories and games. All ages over six welcome to volunteer.”  Jane set down her groceries and started at the faces from last year’s event displayed on the fold-out. They all seemed to gleam with joy. When was the last time her kids faces looked like that? Or hers, for that matter. When did any of us do something for someone else? And all this time she’d whined about her family’s circumstances. They were so much better off than any of these people in the pamphlet.

        She tapped in the phone number and raised her cell phone to her ear. The recording asked her to press one if she wanted to volunteer. Then it asked for how many would be coming. She clicked her fingernail on 5. With a grin almost reaching her dimple she shoved her phone in her purse. 

        Christmas Day arrived cold but sunny. She tapped on the kids’ bedroom doors at 11:00 a.m. “Time to come down stairs. It’s Christmas.” With wide yawns the kids trudged into the living room. The smell of cinnamon and apple oatmeal reached their noses. At each place setting lay a small stocking with socks, candy and a pamphlet inside. “What’s this, Mom?” Jed flipped it over.

        “It’s how we’re spending Christmas. Helping other people find joy. Maybe we’ll find a little of it, too. So eat up, and then go throw on some clothes. We leave in one hour.”  Four pair of eyes looked at her with expressions ranging from “Mom’s finally lost it” to “Do I have to?”  She chose to ignore them.

    When they arrived at the Mission Gospel, the laughter and music filled their ears. The doors opened to a brightly lit room crammed with people. The aroma of turkey with all the fixings whiffed through the air. Jane shuffled her kids to the volunteer table.  “It won’t be so bad. Just three hours and we’ll leave.”

      Halfway through the afternoon as she wiped down the tables, Jane spotted two of her kids showing some small children how to blow bubbles. Jed held a small boy on his lap while reading a story to a half-circle of others seated on the floor. Jez brushed a girl’s hair and tied a ribbon in it. All of them had smiles stretching to their cheeks.

     That evening they sat on the floor, surrounded by pizza remnants and a half-finished puzzle. Their eyes sparkled as they sang acapella carols, led by Jez. Little Jeremy threw his arms around Jane’s neck. “This is the best Christmas ever, Mom.”

Josie nodded “Yes, it is. Can we do this next year, too?”

Jane’s eyes dampened as she gazed into each shining face. “Absolutely. I can hardly wait.”


                            May you find God in Christmas this year…. blessings.  Julie

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: