It had been a difficult move, but as the snows of Christmas fell, we were trying to make the best of it.
In that spirit, Mom learned about new families attending her school having recently arrived in America from Vietnam. With Christmas approaching, she brought home food and gifts for us to wrap.
Then armed with a splendor of red, green and golden wrapped offerings, we went to the older part of town that was home to several old brick apartment buildings.
We knocked on a door and a kind woman invited us in. The home was clean but lacked any festive Christmas tree, ornaments or decorations. All they had was an old couch and some oriental religious artwork. Sitting on the couch were three kids, smiling, giggling and laboring to mind their mother’s instructions.
My mom has a gift of gab and can easily connect with anyone, whatever the language barrier may be. She began to explain that we wanted to help with their first Christmas celebration and even shared a little bit about what Christmas is.
The other mother, in her broken English, didn’t seem to understand – but her appreciation was infectious and sincere. The children began springing around the room after hearing the gifts were for them. We spent the next hour playing and explaining Christmas traditions, while our moms conversed about their respective paths leading to that moment.
I recognize many years later how happy and content that family was, not because of what we brought, but because of what they already had. Their home was humble and safe, and their family took great joy in being together. Whatever struggles existed from their past were absent in their eyes.
I’ve thought about that day many times in 30-plus Christmases that have come and gone. Of all the acts of Christmas charity others have provided to me, that new family to America has never left my mind. Where did they end up? Did the mother find good work? Did the kids succeed in school? Did they even understand the meaning of Christmas?
I cannot honestly say that they did that day. But what I learned for myself in their home has always endured. The holidays are not about what you receive, they are about rejoicing in what God has provided on our behalf.
In the parable of the leaven, Jesus Christ taught: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
We are leavened when we celebrate peace, when we share what we have, when we look to God and offer thanks for His son. Wherever you are this Christmas, may that power to uplift be with you.
- Managing Editor
- Progressive Cattleman magazine
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