Sometimes Christmas is about the gifts and sometimes it is about love and giving. Sometimes it is about both. And this was the case on a cold night in December long ago.
Some friends of mine were working at our church on that cold night, selling Christmas trees to help raise money for our outreach programs. The Christmas tree sale was a large event at our church and most of the men were involved, selling trees during the day and at night.
On that particular night a woman walked onto our lot and told them a story that would change the way they would view Christmas and Christmas trees forever. She was a Teacher Assistant in a first grade classroom. On that particular day the first grade teacher was letting each child in the class tell their classmates the things they would like to receive for Christmas.
Each child named the typical things; bicycles, computer games, dolls, footballs. And then the teacher turned to a boy in the back of the class and asked, "And what do you want for Christmas?"
"A Christmas tree." he said. The teacher, thinking she did not hear him correctly, asked him again. "A Christmas tree," he said again. Some of the other children began to laugh.
"If I can get a Christmas tree then Santa Clause will come." he continued. Realizing her error, the teacher changed the subject and quickly moved on, but neither she nor the teacher assistant would forget the child's words.
So, the Teacher Assistant stood on our tree lot, tears streaming down her face, the men holding them back.
"We will take care of this." they assured her. And on that night they delivered a Christmas tree to a happy first-grade boy and, unknown to the boy, they delivered a truck load of gifts to his mother that they bought at a nearby store.
Whenever I am putting up my tree, I wonder if we don't take too many things for granted and I wonder if we don't realize that we have been blessed many times over. I wonder if we don't complain too much about things that do not matter. What I don't wonder about is the power of love; the power of love to transform us;the power of love that caused those teachers to reach out; the power of love that caused those men to shut down their tree lot and respond to a boy's cry for help.