Some Christmas traditions are easy, we fall into them naturally. Like driving up the mountain to cut down a Christmas tree, and saving time to amble and sip hot cider. If you celebrate Christmas, then getting a tree together is one of the first things you do.
This year our tree turned out to be a lot bigger than we thought. Outside it didn't look like it would fill up our living room quite like this!
Other traditions take a little more effort to create. Those are often the ones that are more important in the long run. In our first year of marriage, our couple's Bible study began the tradition of "adopting" a needy family for Christmas. It looks a little different every year, but essentially a group of us pitch in to get a local family in our community some needs and special gifts for Christmas.
The story that most stands out to me occurred in the second year of this tradition. A single mom with 3 children and a newborn on the way had lost her job because of her inability to sustain that job with a baby to care for. Subsequently, she lost the apartment she was renting, and they were living in a hotel. There is so much more to the story than I am able to divulge, but this woman was sincerely seeking out the best for her children. Christmas was the last thing on their minds, but my friends blessed them with some gifts and gift cards that Christmas, and we never heard back from them... until 2 years later.
I received a phone call from an unrecognized number. It was this very same woman that we had blessed TWO YEARS prior. I happened to be the contact person for our group, and this woman tracked me down because she wanted to say "Thank you" and to share her story with me. For 20 minutes I listened with tears in my eyes as this woman testified to me about the amazing, life-changing, forgiving, healing power of Jesus Christ in her life. She spelled the Gospel out to me and shared about her new life in Christ. Her family was in a stable setting, her children were well, and God was piecing her life back together bit by bit. I have rarely felt so humbled in my life.
Our Bible study's gifts to them are not the reason that this woman discovered new Life. Those gifts were one simple act of graciousness that provided a glimmer of light for her in the midst of darkness. One more reason to believe that God does exist. One source of hope pointing to The Hope.
As a result of her story, this tradition of adopting a needy family is one that I can't pass up. We just came back from Target with a cart full of clothing, necessities, food, and a few toys for a family that may not be getting much else this Christmas. I want my daughter to grow up knowing that when we give generously to others, ultimately we are the ones who are most blessed.