My true Christmas Story

Saturday, December 22, 2012

One year, after my sons had gone to live and work on their own and Christmas was approaching, I was looking around trying to think of what to buy my husband for Christmas. After I while I realized I was really trying hard to dream up a gift for him. I knew he’d be having an even harder time thinking of what to give me.

This got me to thinking about the whole meaning of giving and of Christmas. I’ll try not to make this terribly long, but this is the idea that came to me and what we actually did for Christmas that year -

My husband was a Game Warden. He often confiscated game killed illegally. What happens to it? We tried giving it to facilities like orphanages, but too many government and health regulations kept that from happening. So he always had a list of people he found who were down on their luck and needed food for their families. Most were country boys who could come retrieve the game and dress it and prepare it for eating. This included venison, wild duck, goose, quail, doves, sometimes fish.

Many of these people in our rural area supported their families off the land, too. They hunted and trapped and sold hides. So Jim would also stop when he saw a hide-bearing animal on the roadside - hit by a car - retrieve it and give it to someone so they could sell the hide. This little extra money made a big difference to some families.

Christmas was close and Jim found a huge raccoon that had been killed so he took it to the house of a construction worker who had hurt his back and was out of work. He knew the man would get a nice sum of money for it, enough to buy a few groceries for his wife and 5 kids. The next week Jim stopped by the man’s house and the kids came running out to greet him. One little boy said, “Mr. Jim. Thanks so much for the raccoon. We haven’t had meat in a long time.”

When Jim told me this, we were both horrified. These people were not only eating something most of us wouldn’t, it was a road kill, intended for the hide sale only. But they hadn’t wasted any of it! I’ve eaten roasted raccoon and it’s ok, but not what I look forward to having for dinner, and certainly not when it’s picked up off the roadside.

So here is the plan I put forward to my husband: This year we will not exchange gifts. We will use the money we would have spent on each other and we’ll buy groceries for this man’s family. The important parts of this are:

1. We are not just giving food to a poor family at Christmas. We are doing this instead of giving to each other. You and I will NOT exchange gifts.

2. We will not tell anyone about this.
A part of the Bible that has always made a huge impression on me is Matthew, Chapter 6, Vs 1-7. To put it in the vernacular - Do your good works in secret, don’t blow your own horn.
There was a friend at our house when we were discussing this. He did not like the idea because this man was often arrested for one thing or another - misdemeanor crimes. Jim knew lots of people like this and helped them feed their families anyway. They knew if he caught them breaking the law, he’d take them to jail and then take some food to their families. We talked about it for a while and before he left, our friend added his own money to the contribution.

SO, on December 23rd, I left work early and went to the grocery store. I mentally prepared meals for that family of parents and 5 children - 7 days' worth, and bought everything that would be needed to prepare them all. That included a turkey dinner for Christmas day and dessert and candy for the kids. I had more than one grocery cart filled. Christmas Eve morning Jim delivered the entire load, including cash we had collected from our friend. I didn’t go.

He came home crying. The gratitude of the entire family just overwhelmed him. It overwhelmed me, too. The father came to our house later to thank me himself and tell me how hard times had been and what this meant to his family. I can’t tell you the deep joy that filled me that Christmas. It was THE most wonderful Christmas I ever had. It became a tradition I repeated many times, but that first time was the most awesome.

So why am I telling you about this now? I want you, most of all, to hear the SEQUEL. The very next year, this man and his family were in better shape. He came to our house again, to let us know that he and his family were doing the same thing for someone they knew that was in bad shape! He was so thankful to us, not only for the gift of food and money, but for the gift of the GIFT. Of seeing the GIFT in action. I went on to hear, in subsequent years, how the GIFT was being passed on, throughout a community of working poor, and yes, people who were often in our jail for one thing or another. Still people with families to feed and needs to be met.

Even though we didn’t tell anyone what we did, the word spread around, mostly through a community of people that most good citizens ignored or wouldn’t associate with. I still hear about it now and then, 25 yrs later. I certainly still reap benefits un-imagined from it. The memory of that first time still gives me chills.

Jim is long gone from this earth. We were married for 31 years. Remembering our Christmas story keeps him close to me.

That’s my Christmas Story.


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  • DS9KIE
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1974 days ago
    Finally getting to read this. What a lovely and touching story. Did you read my recent blog, Can Money Buy Happiness? (actually listen to it). I think it fits with this and you might enjoy hearing it.
    Thanks for the post.
    1974 days ago
    Hubby and I like to do similar things. Rather than give money to some nameless, faceless person it's nice to actually give to someone you know has a need. You can see what your gift accomplishes and feel good that you really made someone happy.
    1976 days ago
    Wonderful story. Bless you and those you help..♥
    1978 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing this awesome story.
    This is the true spirit of Christmas
    1979 days ago
    How awesome Karen!. That is exactly what I have been doing the past few years. I pick up food from Harvesters and deliver it to the needy in our neighborhood. The look, the smile, the joy on their faces makes my Christmas all worth while. DH and I haven't exchanged gifts since our kids left home. We do still buy for our grand kids tho. Have a Very Merry Christmas.
    God bless you.
    1979 days ago
    Beautiful story and well told. You understand Christmas in a way that most do not. Thank you for sharing.
    1979 days ago
    Karen, I want you to know how much this story touched my heart. I appreciate you sharing it with us. You never know how it might motivate someone else to pass on the GIFT! Not just the gift of food or something necessary for sustaining their family, but for the GIFT of Jesus Christ coming to save them from their sin! You see, that giving heart of yours and Jim's is representative of the Father's heart of giving. It sparks within people the essence of what God did for us when He gave Jesus to die for us. We celebrate at this time of the year the birth of the greatest GIFT ever given! And yes, we give because He gave!

    Thank you for giving!
    1980 days ago
    That was beautiful, Karen. Your Jim was quite a guy and you are one special lady! The ripples that were created by your generous act traveled far and are probably still in motion today.
    Christmas joy to you emoticon
    1980 days ago
  • JEANNE229
    What a wonderful memory that lives on and on. Paying it forward, those you have helped also make the world better for others. (I'm tearing up here).

    1980 days ago
    Now that's the true meaning of Christmas.
    1980 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Karen, this is THE most beautiful Christmas story I have ever heard! I thank you for it even though I sit here with tears streaming down my cheeks. Thank you for giving many of us a most wonderful idea to pass on your story!

    Have a VERY Merry Christmas!
    1980 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us. This is very touching and it does convey the true meaning of Christmas.
    emoticon emoticon
    1980 days ago
    Karen, that's a beautiful story. It's similar to Pay it Forward.
    Many blessings will come your way.
    1980 days ago
    And that my friend is what Christmas is SUPPOSED to be about. How many of us forget the true meaning of this season.
    Thank you so much for sharing this precious memory with us and I am wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    1980 days ago
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