If, like me, you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all the bad news and the countless numbers of wounded and needy people in the world, wishing you could make a real difference this Christmas, but not knowing where to start — I highly recommend this story by blogger and author Ann Aschauer.
Ann’s story, about how she felt led to focus, not on the whole hurting world, but on helping just one nearby family of seven children who had lost their mom the year before, touched my heart very deeply.
You see, I can relate to those motherless children. When I was twelve years old and the eldest of five, four of whom were prescoolers, we had a most terrible Christmas. We had lost our father a few months earlier, not to death, but to his arrest for almost murdering our mom.
With our father gone, there was no money for Christmas presents that year. Our only car had been taken, we lost the lovely home my parents had custom built six years earlier, and I was still wearing the same clothes, and the same worn out shoes, that I had worn the previous year, all of which I had outgrown. My feet had bloody blisters constantly, and the school yard bullies teased me mercilessly because my dresses were now much too tight and short.
My family barely had enough to eat. I was no longer able to buy the hot school lunches, so most days I went without lunch, and often without breakfast, too. So there was certainly no money for Christmas gifts. Our maternal grandparents had helped us out tremendously by buying my mom an old but serviceable car, and they had moved us into the house they later retired to. That was wonderful, because otherwise we would have been homeless.
Over the years, my maternal grandparents always sent us a big box full of gifts by the middle of December. But, as I recall, after all the money they had spent to save us from living on the streets, they did not send us anything that year for the holidays. In fact, the only presents I remember anyone in our family getting for Christmas when I was twelve years old, were the items I had stolen from a nearby Five and Dime store, that I wrapped up and gave to my mom and my four little siblings. It was my first time, and *almost* my only time, shoplifting. (I still feel really bad about it, more than fifty years later! If that store were still in business, I would pay them back — with a whole lot of interest.)
My childhood Christmases before the age of twelve were wonderful, almost magical. Which made the first Christmas after my family blew apart seem all the more miserable, by comparison. That Christmas was when my severely depressed and traumatized mother began trying to gas us all to death… which is a long story that I have written about before, and don’t feel like writing about again, right now.
Oh, if only our family had known someone like Ann, how different that sad Christmas might have been! Her revelation is the reminder I needed. The reminder that I can’t save the whole hurting needy world, as much as I would like to — but I can reach out in love to someone close by, someone who has been “left at the gate,” as Ann explains in her post.
Below is the link to Ann Aschauer’s post, God’s Gift to a Guilty Giver. Thank you for reading. God bless, Big ((HUGS)), and… Merry Christmas!