The Ultimate Gift
I was going through a very low point in my life. It was a very dark and sad time for me and my four kids. I had no desire to celebrate Christmas, put up a tree, decorate, hang stockings, and put on a fake smile to mask the pain I felt. My youngest said,” But Mom, Daddy would want us to celebrate. He’s with Jesus.” That statement left me breathless. Every ornament and Christmas song broke my heart repeatedly. The layers were peeled back and I was more aware than I’ve ever been in my entire life and I finally got it! I really got it. What life is all about. Christmas is about the people we love and not about the gifts.
On a cold December morning, we made our way to the store with extended family. Christmas music filled the air, shoppers were busy buying gifts. As my sister’s started off to join the rush of shoppers and go fill their carts with stuff. I stood there in the store as Christmas music blared overhead. Shoppers were in a mad rush to grab the latest deals, thrills, stocking stuffers, their carts overflowed to the max full of the latest trends. I stood frozen as I just watched and stared. Silent tears ran down my cheeks, I watched the buying frenzy before me. Each shopper in their own “little world” stuffing their carts and pulling items off the racks.
What I so desperately wanted that year couldn’t be found or bought at a store. I would give anything I had just for another 5 minutes with Sean. My heavy heart filled with grief and sadness. Seven months before my husband and sweetheart of 20 years, Sean was killed in a car accident. Two police officers stood on my front porch to deliver the news that Sean did not survive. The day we buried him I turned around to look back at his red casket that held his lifeless body and slowly walked away. That day I left a piece of me behind. I watched my children’s faces slump with sadness as we drove away in the limousine overwhelmed that at their young lives they were now without a father, who was just their days before. I couldn’t make sense of the cruelty that life had dealt us an unfair blow. I couldn’t make their pain go away. As a parent, you would do anything to shield your children from this kind of pain.
Thanksgiving was heartbreaking as families gathered together. Ours was broken and the season of giving thanks felt amiss, I felt empty inside. Every moment without him opened up my eyes to new and beautiful moments in life I had somehow missed before. Did I not appreciate and was I not grateful for the “little things”? Most importantly was I grateful for the gift of time? The time we had together. Many hours were spent in special moments remembered in our memories.
If I were to ask you what you got for Christmas last year I bet most of you can’t remember. We’re constantly being distracted by shallow things with no special meaning. Why do we keep on filling our shopping carts with more stuff we don’t need. We exchange gifts in the form of products, that are marketed to us by big corporations as the only way to prove our love! You see, in our crazy world when love has even been commercialized with countless messages bombarding us that we all need products and things. What if we challenged this idea. We have gotten away from the true meaning and magic of Christmas. I also have been guilty of this.
That first Christmas after Sean died felt bleak. I couldn’t see the “REAL GIFTS” that I still had that were sitting right in front of me. I was only focused on what I was missing and what I lacked. I had just laid the kids down and was so worn out from the day. Trying to be the perfect mom, the perfect parent and tried hard to make up for the lack in their lives. I knew the way wasn’t about buying more crap we didn’t need or even want. I was sitting quietly after the kids had gone to bed, I was exhausted to the bone. I was worried truth be told about keeping the lights on, house warm, buying food, making ends meet, the bills that kept piling up and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to pay them. Earlier in the week, I had received a foreclosure notice. I was so exhausted and didn’t know how I was going to make it. I went back to work after Sean died. I was helping out handicapped children with special needs, It paid $10 an hour all my monthly earning didn’t even cover the large mortgage payment. Deep down in my heart, I knew we were going to have to move and I hated breaking news to the children. I knew this was going to be the last Christmas in the house they had known, all the beautiful memories made inside the four walls. Laughter, tickle fights, tossing the kids in the air, slow dancing to country music, being silly and bedtime stories.
As I sat staring at the tree, silently pleading with God for direction, my doorbell rang. I got up and made my way to the door. As I opened it and looked out no one stood there. I looked down and to my surprise on the porch sat a glass jar piggy bank full of money. My heart softened. I began to read the card and began to cry when I realized just what kind of gift I held in my hands. In a child’s handwriting, scribbled on a makeshift card attached to the jar with a red curly ribbon read the most beautiful little words.
“I have been saving this money and working hard.” I heard your husband died, I’m sorry. I want you to have it because I still have my dad. Merry Christmas.”
I looked down and the jar was filled with coins and rolled up bills. I looked up at the sky and stars. I thanked God for this little child with the purest kind heart whose act of kindness had a profound effect on me. So selfless. A gift from a child so innocent, sweet and kind. They gave us all they had! It was so profound filled full of love I was so humbled. This act of kindness and generosity affected me deeply that Christmas and each Christmas after. I still have the jar. When I look at it it reminds me of “The Ultimate Gift” The Piggy Bank that Stole My Heart!
I was reminded of the True Meaning of Christmas by the unselfishness of a little child for warming my heart by making this one of my most memorable Christmas gifts ever and helped me focus on what was most meaningful. This was one I will never forget.
Love doesn’t have a price tag and can’t be bought.
I’m here to tell you Christmas doesn’t come from a store! It comes from your HEART.
If there’s anything we need more of in this world, it’s warm hugs, kindness, sharing, giving, generosity, service and random acts of kindness. These are the things that enrich our lives and give life meaning and purpose. Making a difference. Having gratitude for your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience to feel grateful; being grateful for the things we already have. Our modern society teaches us to fill our lives with consumerism, shopping, and overspending to fit in causing many of us to live over our means. We’re bombarded with advertising and social conditioning that we need more stuff in our lives to be happy. This is not at all true!
Buying stuff doesn’t fulfill us. We need more human connection and less stuff!
We shouldn’t have to lose what we have to finally realize what we have been given to appreciate. Like the ability to hear, see, walk or lose those we love, to appreciate what we have. Be thankful now! Show love and sprinkle kindness everywhere. Be thankful for the difficult times. It’s during those times we grow. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What is good about this?”, or “What can I learn from this?”
I challenge you to put “Christ” back in Christmas by giving more LOVE, be kind to one another. The life you change just might be your own as often the giver is the receiver.
And if we find ourselves in a place of relative abundance, let’s offer what we can to ease the suffering of our fellow humans. We have so much and we are so blessed. It only takes one small act of kindness to create a ripple effect and touch the life of another and make a positive difference for good!
At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought but what we built; not what we got but what we shared; not our competence but our character; and not our success, but our significance. Life a life that matters. Live a life of love.
Please take a moment to do something for someone else. Ellen DeGeneres says “be kind to one another”. This Christmas let’s just give more love and bring back the magic of Christmas!
I challenge you to start today! Let’s not gift products. Instead of gift experiences — experiences of connection, compassion, acceptance, and belonging! Give your offering by offering up your “Piggy Bank” of Love whatever you have to offer as the Ultimate Gift this Christmas to someone else in need. Love, Tracy Peart – Mrs. HolyShift