The Best Christmas Ever
Almost 20 years ago, I had one of the best Christmases ever. Really, it was the best Christmas Ever!
Christmas Eve started out like every other Christmas Eve for a Retailer. I went in early to the store and prepped for the last day of the major Christmas shopping season. Stock out, shelves faced, change in the drawer, team members ready, open sign turned on.
We had a fairly successful retail season that year. As a Christian Bookstore our gross profit was never very high, but we felt our mission was being fulfilled, helping missionaries complete their missions. The day started with a bang as it often does on Christmas Eve. Shoppers filled the store, and the team went into action helping ensure last minute shopping needs were met.
Around noon, a patron came in and asked what we could do to help an underprivileged family. She knew of a family that had no food, no gifts, and no wood. Basically, no Christmas! The family had hit a rather hard spell that year, and had to pay for electric and rent, instead of gifts and food. She also shared that they had no fire wood which was their only source of heat.
I must admit, my heart did a flip-flop upon hearing their story. Not only were there adults, but several children in the family. As I looked into the eyes of my 4 year old daughter, I realized that we had to make Christmas happen for this family. And, as time was moving quickly, as it often does on Christmas Eve, I needed to act fast.
I found out the ages of the family, the location of their house and went into action. We promised that we would make Christmas happen, even though I was fully aware that it was close to impossible to make that happen at this late date. My best friend Debbie, who also worked with me at the time, called her husband to see if he and their son Levi could be the transport for the delivery. Debbie, my mother Linda, and the team at the store set out to find perfect gifts in the store for the family, especially the children. And I took off for the grocery store with my sister and daughter.
Upon entering the store, we knew that it would be a challenge. The biggest grocery store in town, on one of the busiest days of the year was going to be a mess. Plus, we had no plan, no list, and no real idea of how little food the family we were shopping for had in their cupboards. But, we were off! I asked my sister to fill her cart with everything a family would need for a traditional Christmas Dinner. I set off to find the family a week of food and basic necessities. Did I mention everyone in town was in the store that day!
About an hour later my sister and I met somewhere in the middle of the store. And found a short line…only about 15 carts! We parked both our carts in the line, and took turns running for additional items we thought of to help the family. Another hour later and we were back at our bookstore. Debbie and the team had wrapped the gifts, and we had purchased the groceries. Nat and Levi had arrived with wood, ready to make the special holiday delivery.
When Nat and Levi arrived on the scene, they found that the road leading to the family’s home was up a steep hill and completely iced over…impossible to ascend ! They hiked up the hill and knocked on the door. The family had no idea that someone had asked for help on their behalf, and were overjoyed! The Dad found a sled, and the three took off for the car.
When the car was opened, and the wonderful spread of gifts, food, and wood were revealed to the father, tears came. The three worked for about an hour hauling load, after load up the steep icy hill. The father and family expressed their heartfelt thanks, and Nat and Levi returned to the store.
I have to admit, my biggest present that year, was having the opportunity to listen to Nat and Levi tell the story of the special delivery. Nat talked about the functionality of the sled, hill, and the guy. Levi shared how cool it was to be on an icy hill hauling presents as any young boy would. But the feeling in my heart of knowing the relief and joy that the parents of that family had as they were able to celebrate Christmas with their kids, in full holiday fashion, was the best present I could ever experience. Truly the best Christmas ever!
My day did not go as planned that Christmas Eve, but it was truly one of the best ever! This bit of my life occurred almost 20 years ago. But, I remember the feeling as if it were yesterday. A team working together to make something amazing happen, for a family they had never met.
As we head into Christmas, remember to keep your eyes and heart open. There is someone, somewhere who has a great need that only you can fill. It might be a monetary donation. It could be a need for food or gifts. Or, it could be as simple as you making a phone call to someone who needs to talk. Regardless of what the need is, keep your ears, eyes, and heart open this Christmas. Someone needs you. Make it the Best Christmas Ever!