Christmas compassion

It was Saturday afternoon. I was walking around the Dollar Store with Avery as she prepared a “girl” box for Operation Christmas Child. She was sorting through the hair accessories to find just the right pretty things to add to her box, which already had a stuffed animal, cute socks, ring pops and Hello Kitty toiletries, while dad and Charlie were going through school supplies. She asked me quietly: “What about the mom?” I hesitated at first. But realizing what she said, and feeling tender-hearted at her question, I bent down to see her face to face. With eyes tearing up, I hugged her with one arm and said: “Oh, honey, the mom’s gift is seeing her child smile and to watch her child receive a fun box to open.” She nodded and smiled. I knew she understood.

Christmas is a great time to instill a heart for giving and to put into perspective how rich and blessed we truly are. We had talked plenty about these needy children. Both kids were excited about the “big” bag of goodies we went home with to fill the boxes, so we didn’t pass up the opportunity to contrast that with the pile of gifts they get each year for birthdays, Christmas and who knows what else …

The next day, we went through the Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog as a family. As part of our Christmas shopping last year, we included gifts for those in need and continued the tradition this year, each of us making selections.

Avery was already disappointed she couldn’t put food in the Christmas Child gift box, so it was no surprise that she selected Fruit Trees first thing out of the catalog. We also have talked a lot recently about the need for clean water in other countries so I was glad to see her choose a Freshwater Well, too (having updated it from Clean Water for a family because it “would help more people”). Matt and I agreed that we would have added the well if one of the kids didn’t pick it, it was marked “urgent need” after all. I told her to pick 3 items but these were the two most important to her so we focused on those. Charlie can’t help himself, it was harder for him to narrow it down; he chose 4 so it evened out. The first thing I read, he wanted to give. “Of course they need that!” It also touched my heart that he selected Training and Equipping an Evangelist as well as Transform the life of a Disabled Child. Instead of the soccer balls. I shouldn’t be surprised by my sensitive boy, but I was. Of course, watching a child select any item to give to someone in need brings joy to a mom’s heart.

We all have a lot to learn. I know how easy it is to think only of myself. But every act of compassion makes it that much easier to think of others. I hope, for me and my family, the trend will continue after the “giving” season.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ ” –Deuteronomy 15:11

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