When our children were small, money was often tight, but we had plenty. Plenty of love. Plenty to eat. They had plenty of imagination and plenty to play with; cardboard boxes, tables and blankets created new worlds to explore.
One Christmas, we decided to forego gifts for them and spend the money instead on shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. It would be a lesson in giving. We knew that with two sets of grandparents, they would still receive plenty.
Operation Christmas Child is an international relief organization. They provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in their own communities. The boxes are shipped to children who are affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine and disease.
Right after Thanksgiving, we ventured to town with high spirits. They enjoyed shopping at Kmart and selecting toothbrushes and paste, wash cloths, soap, a rubber ball, coveted matchbox cars and a new doll for our unknown friends.
Afterward, we splurged and ate supper out. It was on a rare occasion that we felt we could afford a restaurant meal. That night we had the fried chicken baskets at Harold’s. With our stomachs and hearts full, we drove around town looking at the lights.
Over the next week, the shoeboxes were packed and repacked and readied for delivery. Each item was discussed and delighted over. Oh, were the children going to be surprised when they opened our boxes!
Our three children seemed content with the idea of not receiving presents from us. However, they received more than they gave.
Early in December, a neighbor dropped off a bag of sewing scraps. Inside was yards and yards of blue and brown stripped knit fabric. Our children did need new pajamas, so my wife sewed them each a set of pajamas and hid them away for Christmas Eve.
Deep down in the bag was some small jingle bells and fur fabric. I found a pattern for stuffed kittens and sewed, by hand, a kitten for each of our children.
Aunt Ruby joined in the fun and knitted each one a pair of slippers.
Kelly, a co-worker, gave me three new tiger-shaped cups that she had received in the mail. We decided to add them to their gifts.
We wanted one more thing to add to their Christmas packages. McDonald’s Happy Meal toys were coin banks that year, so we spent a total of $3.75 and bought a bank for each of them.
We wrapped each item separately and then wrapped them in a box. On Christmas Eve we ate our traditional supper and snuggled together on the couch. Squeals of delight could be heard as they opened their boxes.
Our son sat quietly looking at his collection of plenty and said, “All this for me?”
So, it is with our Christmas Gift, we can look with wonder at Him and His death to bring us salvation and say, “All this for me?”