One of my favorite Christmas illustrations is a true story that took place many years ago in Paines Hollow, New York. There was a thirteen-year-old boy who attended Mohawk Central School in that city. One year, at Christmastime, he heard an appeal for contributions to Santa Claus Anonymous, a group that provided gifts for poor children who would otherwise not receive any Christmas presents. The boy truly felt for the underprivileged children and desperately wanted to contribute some money to the cause. So he scrimped and saved wherever he could and managed to come up with fifteen cents to contribute. He figured that it wasn’t much but at least it was something.
But on the last day before school dismissed for Christmas vacation a blizzard buried the area in snow. The buses couldn’t run, which meant that the boy couldn’t get to school to put in his fifteen cents. Undeterred, he made the long walk through the deep snow to personally deliver the money to the school principal. As the principal graciously accepted the meager offering, he could barely hold back the tears in his eyes. You see, that boy was one of the impoverished children on the list to receive a Christmas present from Santa Claus Anonymous.
Last Thursday night our oldest son Ryan had a j.v. basketball game. Tonya and I went to the game, but we left our ten-year-old, Royce, with Tonya’s parents. When we got back, I went and picked up Royce. It wasn’t long before I learned that he had surprises for me, Tonya, and Ryan. He wouldn’t tell me what the surprises were. All I knew was that he had them hidden in a bag. I would have to wait until we got home for the big revealing.
Once we were home, Royce excitedly got us all gathered into the bedroom and began handing out the surprises. They were Christmas ornaments that he had gotten Tonya’s parents to buy when they had taken him to a store that night. Ryan got the ornament that looked like a fish because he loves fishing. Tonya got the one that said “World’s Greatest Mom.” I got the one that had the Bible on it because I am a preacher.
Were these ornaments expensive? No way. We’re not talking Hallmark collectibles here. Had Royce used his own money to pay for them? Not a chance. Grandpa and Grandma wouldn’t hear of him paying for anything! But were those ornaments wonderful? Absolutely. The fact that they came from our little boy’s giving heart made them priceless. I was so proud of him for somehow instinctively understanding something that most of us forget: It is better to give than to receive. By the way, if that sounds familiar, it’s a quote from Jesus. Go read Acts 20:35 for your Christmas homework and let its words keep you in the right spirit this holiday season.