“I recall a Christmas when I was around eleven years old and my single mother pulled me aside one day and said, “Ash”—she probably really called me SMASH—”I have to ask you a favor.” She then continued to inform me that her Christmas budget this year was almost none. “I need your help,” she explained. “The only item I was able to buy for you was nail polish last year, and this year I need you to be okay with that.”
I’d outgrown the years of begging Santa for gifts, but I’d never envisaged a Christmas when we’d have almost nothing beneath the tree. “Do not get me another thing, I told my mother, if you have any money left over, purchase something for the small girls. My younger sisters were 5 and 7 years old, and I was confident that they still believed in the tiny cheerful man in the red suit.”
On Christmas morning, I unwrapped nothing except my nail paint, exactly as she had promised. As the others opened their little presents, I sat silently.
As I choked back tears, it was difficult to breathe.
I wasn’t upset about the gifts, but it was painful to watch my mother attempt to smile—I could see it on her face… she felt like she had let us down.
There was a knock soon after. We hurried to our little duplex’s door, and as it swung open, we were shocked to discover what appeared to be a tiny tree standing proudly on our doorstep. Instead of leaves, this little tree boldly displayed individually wrapped dollar dollars, which were attached securely to each branch by tiny ribbons.
As we took up the small magical plant and carried it inside our cramped kitchen, tears welled up in my eyes.
My mother’s face was moist from tears as she watched us count what felt like a million dollars, and I looked up to see her.
That Christmas, we felt wealthy—we were wealthy in blessings, riches, and love. Someone cared enough about us to recognize that year… we only needed a sliver of hope… not in a little jolly man in a red suit… but in Christ. That day, they were his hands. Angels who left a small note in that tiny apartment to let us know we weren’t forgotten.
Let’s fast forward five or six years.
It’s that time of year again. “Kids,” he stated, “this year we want to celebrate Christmas a bit differently, we want to donate our presents to a family that needs it.” There were twelve of us between the two of them, perhaps six of us living at home.
We’ll give you a budget and pair you up with a partner to purchase for each of their children, and we’ll deliver everything on Christmas Eve. Our objective is to keep them guessing about where it comes from. It’ll be a lot of fun… the only catch is that none of you will get anything.”
My thoughts instantly returned to the nail polish, the money tree, and my mother’s expression. “Yes!” I said, ecstatic.
I went it a step further—as I frequently do—and knocked on their door with a phony “school research questionnaire.” I needed to meet the individuals for whom we were going to shop. These complete strangers welcomed me into their home.
I took a look around the room. They didn’t have a television, and there was no trace of food. They had four small children.
While filling out my fictitious questionnaire, they spoke to their children with great warmth. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I drove home that night, thinking about all the delightful things I was going to buy for their family.
Christmas Eve has arrived.
In our front room, the boxes were all lined up and tastefully adorned. We piled them into our vehicles. “Ashlee, you are the quickest kid I know,” my stepfather turned to me as we neared their little apartment in quiet. Why don’t you be the one to ring the doorbell and dash around the corner once we’ve put all the presents on the porch?”
Everyone had poured into the automobiles after loading everything on the porch.
I rang the doorbell and dashed as quickly as my legs would allow. We sped away when I smashed myself against the automobile. I observed a Kmart just outside their apartment’s gate. I recommended that we walk to the parking lot and peer over the massive cinderblock fence to see if the family was there. (As I previously stated, I’m always looking for ways to improve.)
My stepbrother raised me up to the point where I could almost see over the wall. And there on the doorstep were all the presents… as well as a mother who couldn’t even bend down to pick up one box because she was sobbing so hard. I could hear her cries and sense her thankfulness, but I also remembered a day when my own mother had shed the same tears—and I was filled with delight.
This time, we got to be His hands—someone else was able to recall His love… and we were able to be a part of it.
I’ll never forget any of these Christmases, as well as the lessons I learnt from sensing the earthly angels… and how strong it feels to be one.
Heaven is near, and angels may be found all about us—some we can see, and others we can only sense. Let us constantly remember the miracles this Christmas—we even have the ability to create them. Three wise men followed a star to deliver their love to a little newborn in a distant land. We don’t have to seek hard or go far to discover someone who needs to be reminded that they are loved—a small ray of hope can tell us that we are not forgotten.
On the blog, there’s a new entry. “Heaven has arrived.”