Don’t Tell Me I’m a Good Person

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Stocking 6It wasn’t easy for me growing up. My best Christmas ever was very close to being my most crushing. It was the year I desperately wanted an E.T. doll. I wanted that doll so bad, I could almost see it. I talked about it non-stop.

That year, I could sense something was different with my mom and dad. When I talked about how Santa was going to bring me an E.T. doll and it would be the best Christmas ever, my parents did not rejoice with me. Worry lined their faces. They started to say things like, “Santa cannot always bring you everything on your list.”

That didn’t make sense to me, because all I wanted was an E.T. doll. I hadn’t asked for anything else and I had told them about one million times it was all I wanted. Still, the stress in the house nagged at me. There was a dark cloud hovering over us and worry tugged at my heart. Not just for my E.T. doll, but for my family.

As Christmas approached, I heard my parents arguing at night and I would lie in my bed, trying not to listen. I’d think about Christmas, God and baby Jesus. I thanked God for sending Jesus, even though I didn’t really know why He had done that; I just knew it was an important detail. I told God that if He worked out the whole E.T. Doll thing for me, I would be good for the rest of my life. (Umm, I don’t think we need to point out that I was pretty much setting myself up for a fail there!)

I knew something wasn’t right, but as a child I wasn’t privy to what was wrong. So I lay there and worried my little eight-year-old heart out. I started to wonder if I were going to wake up on Christmas morning to no gifts, no Christmas at all. A very big part of me felt like if we did not have a Christmas, the world would end.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, something changed. Dad had taken the bus to go shopping and my mom no longer appeared to be carrying the weight of the world.

We put out our milk and cookies for Santa and wrote our letters. I asked for my E.T. doll again, just in case someone had missed that I really wanted one. As I fell asleep, I thanked God for baby Jesus one more time and wondered how a baby could change the world.

On Christmas morning, I awoke at the crack of dawn. We had to wait until my dad had made a pot of coffee before we were allowed into the living room. When I was finally allowed in, my eyes quickly scanned the tree and there he was: big blue eyes and all his wonderful alien glory. I squealed and tore across the room. He was mine and I hugged him close, loving him with all my heart. Never had I wanted something so badly.

I believed again and knew Somebody was watching out for me. Everything felt okay in the world again.

I kept that E.T. Doll all the way through my teenage years. It always reminded me of what it was like to lose hope and then have it restored.

Later my dad told me about that year. Someone had given my parents money to make Christmas happen for us. Things were rough for them that year, as they often were. I think about what that one act of generosity did for my family; how as a little girl, it brought me my best Christmas ever.

Now, as an adult, I am part of the Kids Christmas Project at our church. This is our sixth year of putting together 200 hampers and 1,500 shoe boxes to go out to the poorest kids in our community.

If you were to meet me and we happened to get talking about hampers, I likely will have a difficult time shutting up. Not because I want you to see how awesome I am. I don’t want you to tell me I am a good person. This project is who I am. It resonates at the very core of me. And it is who I believe we can all be.

It is also about this time of year I start to stress, pray, give up, rise up, fall on my face, procrastinate. I call my friends to freak out a little, I feel stretched and then I pray some more. It’s the crunch time, everything has to be ordered and the funds are trickling in a little too slow. I find the coming weeks require a lot of faith and walking on water moments.

With so many important asks this time of year, it can feel overwhelming, but as I sit with food hampers on my heart, I am believing for a miracle.

Don’t tell me I am a good person; I am not looking for praise. We all know that we can’t do everything, but we can all do something. And this, this is my something.  I know what poverty felt like. I know the shame and smallness that can come with it. And right now, right in my backyard, there are people really hurting and struggling.

Our Kids Christmas Project is big, but the message it sends is bigger. It tells these communities they are valued. That they are not forgotten. It takes some pressure off the parents. It fills little bellies.

And it might just answer one little girl’s prayers.

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If you would like to donate to the Kids Christmas Project, you can donate online here. Please designate your funds to “Community Care.” There is a designation box on the form.

We fill our shoe boxes with small toys, mittens and candies. Our hampers are filled with food, staples for Christmas dinner and a gingerbread house kit. This year we also have beautiful handmade stockings that will be filled with candy for the kids and added to each hamper.

Each shoebox costs $25 to fill.

Each hamper is $100 to fill.

Any amount will help … truly.

You can find out more about the project right here

Here’s Daniela’s post from last year: The Multiplication of the Peanut Butter, Gingerbread Houses and KD

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Image credit: Daniela Schwartz

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