I could hear thumping and pounding as I woke from my sleep. My eyes were fighting to stay open since it was late at night and I had dozed off.
That beautiful time of year had arrived again…Christmas.
Our family was getting back on our feet after being homeless for a few months and living in the local women’s shelter with my mother. We had lost everything we owned in a house fire that my mom, and I had been trapped in. We had been fortunate enough to jump from the second story and survive the fire that burnt our apartment building to the ground. Sadly, Mom broke her foot and wasn’t able to work for a year.
The compassionate citizens in our community of Wawa, Ontario, had helped us get back on our feet again by donating food, clothes and furniture to us.
Christmas was going to be quite simple this year. Mom had always kept Christmas to a present or two for each of my three siblings and me. But we were just as excited as any child who anticipated what we might get in our beautifully wrapped box.
Mom loved Jesus and would tell us the importance of making him the focus of the season instead of our gifts. She has a plaque that has the word JOY on it and underneath is written: Jesus, Others and You.
A couple of days before Christmas this particular year, she gathered us kids and asked if we minded if she invited a single mother and her three-year-old daughter to stay overnight on Christmas Eve, and celebrate the holiday with us?
We all excitedly agreed and quickly gathered together and made a plan. We ran to our bedrooms and found any coins we had saved and scrounged enough to get both Rose and her daughter each a small gift.
Mom had baked cookies and treats so we could have some dessert together before bed. Sugar cookies with icing were my favourite treat this time of year especially if we had them with a mug of hot chocolate.
We waited for them to arrive Christmas Eve and eventually we went to bed after we realized they weren’t coming.
We were so disappointed.
Then I woke to loud noises and yelling. I came out of my room and saw Rose* stumbling around. Mom told me to go back to bed. I obeyed and hopped back under my covers but was now wide awake.
I could hear Rose crying and Mom talking to her in soothing tones. Then the throwing up. From where I was sleeping I could see Mom standing over Rose rubbing her back as she threw up and kept crying and talking of her heartwrenching life.
Christmas was a sad time for Rose.
Eventually, morning came. My sister and brother and I woke up Mom, Rose and her little girl, and we all gathered around the Christmas tree to open our presents. We pulled out gifts for Rose and her daughter and handed them to Rose. She just looked up at us in disbelief, and then a big smile came over her face, and her tear-filled eyes lit up.
She was quiet.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Her daughter was delighted with the toy we had bought for her and giggled and played throughout the morning with three teenage kids. Rose smiled quite often that morning. We had a beautiful Christmas that year. One I will never forget.
We were poor in possessions and gifts: but abundant in love and kindness. Mom shared Jesus love with Rose and told her how precious she was to him.
Our mother taught us a beautiful lesson that Christmas.
It is better to have nothing and have loved: than to be rich and have never loved at all.
Rose had lived without love and knew how sad and lonely the holiday can be with alcohol and no family at all.
We never saw Rose after she left Wawa. But I’m sure she never forgot the year she was able to give her daughter a wonderful Christmas with people who loved her.
Whether you are needy or have an abundance this year, you too can give your child a wonderful Christmas.
One small gift and heaps of love given to your children and others can make it the wealthiest Christmas your family has ever had.
Thank you, Mom, for the gifts you gave us that were wrapped in love💗
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
*Rose’s name was changed to protect her identity.