DORA, Ala. (BP)–On Christmas Eve, a petite young woman struggled across the mall with two small children in tow; a third child protruded obviously from her expansive mid-section. Amid the blare of holiday music, giant mechanical figures and mounds of artificial snow, the two toddlers could be heard squealing with glee as they tugged at their mother’s package-laden arms and guided her toward the long, winding line to Santa’s throne.
The mother smiled indulgently as she positioned her family at the end of the noisy, squirming train of youngsters and parents. She leaned heavily against the siderail and rested frequently as her little troop slowly inched up the ramp toward Santa’s first beaming elf.
In a little over an hour, the children had worn themselves almost as ragged as they had their poor mother. But she bravely persevered and beamed happily but wearily as she passed her two wee ones to the elf’s waiting hands. She watched them being escorted onto the lap of a somewhat less than jolly Santa. Another elf waved a toy in the air and made nonsensical statements to the children as she snapped an instant photo. For what seemed like the hundredth time that evening, the mother opened her purse, extracted her wallet and paid an exorbitant price for a 5-by-7 color glossy of her darling children and their Christmas benefactor.
As the tired little family exited the sprawling shopping mall, they passed within inches of a shiny red bucket and a woman bundled tightly against the cold as she repeatedly rang the bell in her hand. The children begged their mother for just a penny or a nickel to drop in the pot, but she sternly stated that they had spent all they were going to spend for one evening.
The group found their way to their sport utility vehicle and headed out into the bumper-to-bumper traffic in the direction of home. She spent half an hour stuck in traffic, another 20 minutes in the drive-through line of a fast-food restaurant and then turned toward home afresh. The cellular phone in the center console began to ring and she picked it up, listened to her husband’s concerned voice and assured him that she and the children would be home soon. She remembered to tell him she had bought supper, too. She ended the call and concentrated on the traffic once again.
She turned into the drive and pressed the automatic garage door opener on her visor. The door rose slowly in front of her as her husband entered the garage to assist her. Between them, they managed to get the food, the children and all the packages inside.
Small talk ensued as the toddlers washed their hands and scurried to get their TV trays, tearing into the new cartoon video that had been purchased during their outing. The father insisted on operating the player himself and he started the DVD as he placed a Smiley Meal on the trays in front of both tots.
As he seated himself at the table in the breakfast room, the phone rang and his wife lifted the cordless phone from its resting place beside her chicken dinner box. She listened as the caller identified himself as one of the members of their nearby church; he was reminding her of the brief candlelight service they were having for Christmas Eve. She commented politely, then explained that her family had been terribly busy that day and it was really necessary that they stay at home and rest. She thanked the caller for his invitation and hung up.
A short while later, the wife and husband were seated on the family room sofa watching the final minutes of the children’s video. The doorbell rang and the husband rose and opened the door. A man and woman stood shivering at the door. The man explained to the husband that they were from a nearby shelter and that the severe weather had brought in greater numbers of people than they had anticipated; he and his wife were going around some of the better neighborhoods and trying to raise some last-minute funds to purchase some additional food and blankets.
The husband explained that his business firm donated to several specific charities and that if the man or woman would come by his office in a few days and complete the proper forms, their organization would be considered for next year’s contributions. He smiled indulgently at the couple, wished them luck on their endeavor, closed the door and returned to his family.
The next morning, the family all rose early and the stacks of gifts were torn into with great enthusiasm. The husband circled the room with a camcorder as the children squealed with delight at all the things Santa had brought them. The mother threw her hands over her face as she mildly chastised her husband for attempting to film her in her I-just-got-out-of-bed appearance.
The husband brought his wife a steaming cup of decaf and seated himself beside her as they watched their two youngsters enjoying their Christmas treasures. He thanked his wife for the numerous gifts she and the children had given him, and she in turn thanked him for all her presents. He hugged her gently and they both agreed that this had been their best Christmas ever.
Where is Christ in your Christmas? I hope as you read this story that His absence was constantly in your thoughts. Does the way you’ve been celebrating Christmas point people to the One we’re supposed to be honoring? The greatest way to pay homage to the Savior is to imitate His life. Remember those less fortunate, help those you can and make a commitment this year to be certain that everyone you come in contact with knows precisely Whose day Christmas is.
“For unto you is born this day … a Savior, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11, KJV).
Judy Woodward Bates is the creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of “The Gospel Truth about Money Management.” Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.