It was Christmastime, and the bells were ringing. Red bows and greenery appeared on street lamps around town. Sales flyers filled the newspapers while commercials appeared proclaiming the newest products necessary for happiness. Lights were going up on houses, and it was when we were putting lights on ours that I felt worry creeping up around me. Christmas was around the corner, and any resource for Christmas money had dried up like a riverbed after a seven-year drought.

Struggling financially wasn’t a new situation for us, but this year we weren’t just poor—our family of seven had hit a new low. For months I’d spread our tiny amount of money around as best I could. It was kind of like icing a cake right from the oven. The icing’s there, but on a hot cake, it melts and becomes so thin it’s transparent. With our money tight and bills not being paid on time, Christmas wasn’t doable. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Christmas was doable since celebrating Jesus’s birth has no requirements or financial restraints. God’s gift is wonderfully free. We were going to celebrate God’s gift of salvation through Jesus, but the possibility of giving presents to one another wasn’t looking so good.

As the days ticked by, nothing changed on the outside, but things were changing where I couldn’t see.

A Gift of Manna

The Sunday before Christmas, one of the children came in the house and said, “There’s a big box on the front porch.” It was a lovely wrapped package with ribbons and bows—the whole deal. We opened it and found an amazing amount of food: potatoes, bread, corn, flour, eggs, sugar, cranberry sauce, green beans, and a turkey. I opened the card. It was unsigned but had a message of love and an additional gift of money. I was humbled because at that moment I was overdrawn at the bank and didn’t have a penny to deposit. It seemed the Red Sea was beginning to open.

After that memorable day, I saw presents appear under the tree and didn’t know where they had come from. I found out one of the children put them there when the gifter confessed his deed. He told me what was in the packages, and I laughed so hard I cried. He had taken things from around home and made funny gifts of them, and to cast off suspicion, had placed a present for himself under the tree too. “I wanted everyone to have a present and didn’t have any money, so I made funny gifts.” That act of love gave me a glimpse of the original Christmas spirit that has been sorely lacking in modern-day celebrations. Christmas originated because people wanted to celebrate the fact that God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus. It didn’t start to bump up retail profits or to see children tear through tons of gifts that would be cast by the wayside in two weeks. Christmas was and is meant to be a celebration of joy, love, and peace. My son’s act of love reintroduced that celebration to me.

As the hours clicked by, bringing us closer to the big day, I wasn’t upset anymore by not being able to buy presents for my family. I had given our situation to God, and we were going to have Christmas. We might celebrate it like they did in the Little House on the Prairie, with a peppermint stick and an orange, but it was going to be Christmas nonetheless.

A Real Christmas

On Christmas Eve, I ran to the store to get a gallon of milk and felt such overwhelming joy at Christmas’s arrival that I couldn’t help but greet everyone with, “Merry Christmas!” My cheery greeting was most often met by stressed-out eyes and a skeptical look. Then, without fail, others would see my smile and a smile would appear on their own faces as they returned my greeting.

Christmas Day dawned beautiful. In the afternoon we opened presents. More than one had joined the gag gift caravan, and the time we spent opening them made us laugh. Those gifts brought such joy and entertainment. I laughed more than I had in weeks. It’s amazing what God can do when we submit a situation to Him. He can turn it around until a Christmas that looks like it’s going to be sad and depressing becomes the best one ever. God taught us that when love is the motivation, the gift is always blessed no matter what! 

 

Elizabeth Kathleen, author of If Children Are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?, is spreading the joy of God’s perfect medicine—laughter—through the humor in her book, Facebook posts, and speaking ministry. All you have to do is listen to or read one of her stories, and you’ll be left asking for more. Visit her website at www.ElizabethKathleen.com.

Elizabeth Kathleen, author of If Children Are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?, is spreading the joy of God’s perfect medicine—laughter—through the humor in her book, Facebook posts, and speaking ministry. All you have to do is listen to or read one of her stories, and you’ll be left asking for more. Visit her website at www.ElizabethKathleen.com.

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