65. Charity

65. Charity

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Charity

Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.

~Ruth Carter Stapleton

I walked through the house looking for my twelve-year-old daughter, Jessica. Entering the family room, I found her sitting cross-legged in front of the Christmas tree. Her back was to me, her long blond hair nearly reaching the floor.

“Hey, what are you doing?” I asked.

She didn’t answer, but I noticed her wiping her nose on the back of her hand.

“What’s going on?” I persisted.

She paused. “Have you spent everything you were going to spend on me for Christmas yet?”

“No. Why?”

“How much is left?”

I thought about the budget and wondered where this was going. She was probably going to ask for something way too expensive.

“I’m not sure. Probably around ninety dollars.” Again I asked, “Why?”

She turned to me, her gray sweatshirt streaked with tears.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” I sat down beside her and cradled her in my arms. This was my baby, the youngest of my children. Jessica was the one who took my husband’s death seven years earlier the hardest. At the tender age of five, she lost her daddy to a flash fire at the place where he worked and she still missed him terribly.

After her sobs subsided, she told me what was on her mind.

“There are so many people who don’t even have food. They don’t have a home or a place to sleep.” She paused. “Can we give the rest of the money you were going to spend on my presents to the homeless?” Her request was pure and sincere. It was my turn for tears.

“Whatever you want, baby,” was all I could muster. “Whatever you want.”

The tiny bulbs on the tree sparkled, lighting the season with new hope… hope for my daughter’s generation. Perhaps this would be the one to eradicate poverty and homelessness. At least I knew there would be one amongst them who would try.

On Christmas morning, the family gathered to exchange gifts. The pile of presents under the tree was considerably smaller that year. Yet somewhere close by, a family or two was enjoying an unexpected Christmas celebration. I glanced out the window at the gently falling snow and said a prayer for them. Looking up to the heavens, I had a heart full of gratitude. “Thank you,” was all I could manage to say

Jessica smiled as she watched her sisters opening their packages. And as she gave me my present, I looked at her precious face and knew there was nothing in that box that could be better than the gift she’d already given me.

~Hana Haatainen-Caye

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