Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas with no presents? Can it be?

Our Christmas Tree from 2010, the Year of 'No' Presents
It all started about three years ago, when we gave Christmas presents, and for whatever reason, all our kiddos were struggling with their attitudes on that day.  My children are sinners too, and they had been on the road, were just a bit cranky, and unthankful. Although they received some beautiful gifts, they didn't say "thank you", and started fighting right away.  We dealt with their attitudes, and my husband made a decision that the next year, we wouldn't be giving them presents for Christmas.  This was not punishment, but an opportunity to see that we can have a fine Christmas without presents.

To be honest, I wasn't too crazy about this plan, but I wanted to make the best of it.  We told each of the girls to work a little every week and earn money, because this next year they were going to give something instead of get.  The Bible says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive,".  We said that this next year we were putting that statement to the test.

I was surprised at how wholeheartedly the girls worked, and we added up the total that they were earning.  The next year was our first Christmas in Tizayuca, Mexico.  They were each doing a little something, earning a peso here and there, and I tallied them up on a paper attached to the fridge.  As the holiday season got nearer, they began to get excited about how much they were earning.  The week before Christmas we chose a family in our church with health needs, and purchased them a heater to help with keeping their home comfortable.  The girls had earned nearly $60 altogether, and they were so delighted to help someone with their own work.

That is not the end of the story, however!  Since we were new in Tizayuca, and it was the first time we lived in Mexico far from the border.  We didn't really know how the mail works here.  We were pleasantly surprised to see three good-size boxes of presents arrive in time for Christmas.  This was unusual, although we had at times received boxes from some dear friends, we had never had so many presents for the children, and this time, they waited patiently, enjoyed the Christmas story being read, and thanked God for the greatest gift He has given us.  They had a greater appreciation now of what it means that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son".  I told the girls that God always blesses those who give, and their biggest blessing was to see that God was pleased.

However, I did not realize what a miracle it was that those boxes even arrived at our door.  Now we kind of know how it works.  Mail is delivered on a motorcycle.  Boxes don't come on these motos.  You have to go down and get them, and if the box doesn't have a number to track, it's very unlikely that you will be able to get it from the post office.  They don't give you notification that you have a box either; you are supposed to track it, then go and get when you see that it has arrived at your local post office.  Since then, we haven't received any boxes from the mail carrier, and several that were sent to us went back because we didn't pick them up in time.  The fact three large boxes came to our door was a work of God!

More than the overload of presents we had that year, I am delighted to see how God has worked in the hearts of all my children.  They love giving, and Christmas just gets more and more fun.  My biggest challenge in the holiday season isn't finding super gifts for everyone, it's making sure all of them are given an opportunity to exercise their giving muscle, whether it's making something, or earning money to buy for someone.

It always pays when you put God's promise to the test.  While we didn't actually have the presentless Christmas we were planning on having, we got to see that God's heart is giving, and He gives back more every time. 

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