I can’t remember what year it was exactly. I was small, I know that, so maybe two or three years old. Being so young, you wouldn’t think I would have such vivid memories of a Christmas, but this particular year I remember well.
My dad was in the hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown. Our mum was left to care for the four of us kids on her own. I’m not sure if she was working at the time or not, but I do know that dad had a business fail which contributed to his nervous breakdown, and that times were tough, money was tight, and mum was feeling it. I remember curling up on her lap many times as she cried. I didn’t understand why she was crying, but I knew she needed a hug, just as I did when I felt sad.
It was nearing Christmas when mum became particularly sad and stressed. No doubt she was looking at the four of us kids, ranging from ages two to fourteen, and wondering how she would provide for us, let along give us a Christmas. And then it happened. Our Christmas miracle.
There was a knock at the door one day. Mum went to answer it, and when she did, I saw strangers on the other side carrying bags and boxes, asking to come in. They brought the parcels into the house and began unloading. A turkey with all the fixings, and a bag full of gifts for each of us kids to put under the tree. The next thing I remember was my mum’s face as it began to melt with tears that streamed down her cheeks. I held on to her legs and cried too.
I remember that my dad was let out on a day pass to celebrate Christmas with us that year, and I can even tell you the gifts I received from those kind strangers: a Weeble Wobble Tree House, a Baby Alive doll, and an elephant head that you attached to the bathtub spout. When you turned the water on, it sprayed in a stream out of his trunk. To my small self, that was the coolest present ever.
Mum never let us forget that Christmas. As dad’s health and our financial situation improved, mum made it her mission to pay back the kindness we had received, and pay it forward to those who needed it after us. Every year she would take us to the tree that held names of children who needed their own Christmas miracle. We would pull off a card and buy a gift for that child, returning it to the tree to be delivered before Christmas. And it made me feel so damned good. It’s a tradition I continue with my own children today.
This is the spirit of Christmas.
Giving selflessly to those you love, but also to those who are in need. And you can say I didn’t need a Weeble Wobble toy, a new doll or an elephant that spurted water out of his trunk. But what my family did need that year was cheer. Love. Compassion. And we received it. Every person in this world who is suffering needs those exact same gifts, and my friends, they are in you to give.
If you can’t donate a gift to a needy child, you can donate your time to a needy charity. If you have no time to give, then give your love or compassion to someone who feels alone. A simple smile, a kind word, a promise of a helping hand when time does allow you. Because the spirit of Christmas needs to be shared not only on December 25th. It can – and should – be shared the whole year through.
Miracles do happen, and each of can be the miracle workers. Spread love this holiday season, my friends, far and wide. The joy you can bring to another person’s life is unbelievable, and indescribable. I have felt it, I have shared it, and I will continue to do so. I encourage each of you to be a miracle for someone this season. Your heart will grow and your consciousness will expand. And that right there is the best gift you can give yourself.
Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2013. Let’s work together to change the world.
Wishing you peace and love,