READER POST: I sat alone in the dark, the blur of Christmas lights blinking against the icy windows. I glanced at the cardboard box of decorations: the dollar store stockings, the plastic ornaments, the artificial secondhand tree–none of it familiar. I began removing each substitute item, given as condolence for not having our cherished Christmas belongings. Surely this was not the life I planned. Being a single mom of four young children, one with profound special needs, came with challenges that I embraced fully, but it was all still bewildering.
As I unpacked, I missed the handmade, polka dot, burlap stockings with cream lace trim that I had spent hours on one Christmas season. I missed the sentimental Hallmark ornaments that I’ve collected since I was a child. I missed the Elf on the Shelf, the Christmas recipes, the teal tree skirt with rainbow sequins that I had hung on to for years because I loved how it looked under a freshly cut pine tree. Never mind these things, I thought to myself. I needed to be practical right now.
I worried about making ends meet this Christmas. To be honest, my children still didn’t have adequate winter coats. I worried about making Christmas special for them. I worried about not making the right type of monkey bread for Christmas morning, about not having an Elf on the Shelf, about missing traditions that my kids would long for. Never mind all that. The kids need coats.
That week, I went to my weekly meeting at the women’s outreach center. As I stepped in the door, there was a box with our name on it, written in bold, black letters. As I opened the worn flaps. Tears welled in my eyes when I realized what was in the box. Four brand new beautiful winter coats, one for each child. This was no mistake. These astute angels had heard me share my worries, my fears, my concerns. They read through my tears each week just how much I wanted my children to have a special Christmas this year after all the changes. They knew the simple relief these winter coats would bring to me and the joy they would bring to my kids.
I have come to realize it is not the things that make the Christmas. It is not the Elf on the Shelf or the Hallmark ornaments. It is not the stockings or even the tree. What it is, however, is the acts of others. It is the kindness, the thoughtfulness, the willingness to look into someone’s situation with love and give service. But it is also the beauty and blessing of receiving in humility and gratitude those gifts which are most precious.
READER BIO: Lesley Anne is frequent submitter to SQ and we love her voice. This particular essay recently won a local writing contest and SQ is happy to bring it to you. Please visit her website, Unrighteous Dominion, to read stories of survivors of spiritual abuse. To find her other submissions on SQ, please search for her by name.
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