Spreading Christmas Cheer

Every Christmas, I try to buy presents for at least one stranger, and I try to include my kids in the selection and purchase. Some years, we just put a toy in one of the many Toys for Tots collection boxes, but most years we “adopt” someone whose information is hanging on a tree at church or at work. I really attempt to be as generous with the adopted family member as I am with my own children or husband. I assume that my present might be the sum total of what they get on Christmas Day, and it breaks my heart to think that someone who needs much might get very little.

One year, only a few days before Christmas, Bill noticed one angel left on the tree in the lobby at his office. He looked and saw that the recipient was a teenaged boy. It’s fun to buy toys and games for little children, and their tags get picked up early. But older children and adults often get neglected. Everybody wants to play Santa for the young ones, but I guess they think it’s not as important for those too old to “believe.”

I think everybody deserves a little Christmas magic. Santa Claus is not a jolly old elf. He is a man, a holy and generous man made in the image and likeness of the Perfect Creator, and his spirit, the Christmas Spirit, though but a shadow of the Divinity, is at work whenever we take from our own bounty and deliver joy to those who have less.

My husband, much more tender-hearted than his acerbic wit might indicate, brought home the paper angel from the tree, and I shopped for the boy who might have been forgotten that Christmas.

After that year, I lean towards selecting an older child or an adult from the tree. Although it’s nice for my kids to help select gifts for someone their own age, I really would worry about an older child being ignored. A young child may have many years left to believe in the magic. It is the older person who no longer believes in Santa Claus who is the most in need of convincing that he is alive and well.

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