74. Packages of Christmas Joy

74. Packages of Christmas Joy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Packages of Christmas Joy

Blessed are they who see Christmas through the eyes of a child. Let this be your gift at Christmas.

~Author Unknown

Every first and third Thursday of the month, I barrel down Arrow Boulevard on my way to St. Catherine’s where I meet with a dozen other women for a Bible study. We meet in the convent’s chapel where the nuns once attended morning Mass and recited their daily hours of prayer. The nuns no longer live in this convent, but their beautiful spirits still linger in the rafters of this sacred space.

I like sitting at the table facing the magnificent stained-glass window that once was the backdrop for the altar. I feel at peace here where the morning light filters through the window in shafts of golden sunlight.

I have learned a lot from these women who have come together to study the Bible. I have seen them take pregnant women into their homes who had no place to lay their heads at night. They have baked dozens of casseroles in twilight’s final moments for a stranger down the street in need of a decent meal. They have stayed with ailing people through their darkest hours, leaving their bedsides only when morning’s light promised a new day. So I wasn’t surprised this past Christmas when they decided to forego our regular gift exchange for something greater.

“Instead of exchanging gifts this year,” Donna said, “let’s bring a gift for a child in the parish who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise.” We all agreed that this was an excellent idea.

On the day of our Christmas gathering, our little Christmas tree in the chapel looked grand, and somewhat important, with all the brightly wrapped packages around it. Last year’s CDs, scarves, clocks, and vases were replaced with yo-yos, stuffed toys, puzzles, and coloring books — gifts that either a girl or boy could enjoy.

After opening prayers and petitions were offered, we gathered the gifts in our arms as if they were precious cargo and headed across the street to the parish office. The secretary behind the counter was pleasantly surprised to see this caravan of Christmas joy come through the double-glass doors of the building.

“This will make a lot of children very happy this Christmas,” she exclaimed. “We’ll make sure each gift finds a home.”

I couldn’t help but feel that something very special had just taken place. My faith in all things wonderful blossomed a little more within me.

Returning to the chapel, we continued our celebration of the Christ Child’s birth. Sharing Scripture, fellowship, and delicious food, the morning graciously slipped into the rafters of the chapel.

As our closing prayer, one of the members read a beautiful Christmas poem that she had recited every year since she was a child. We listened intently as memories of our own childhoods found their places between the lines of this special poem. She made a copy of the poem for each of us, rolling it in scroll fashion and wrapping it in red, satin ribbon — a wonderful souvenir for years to come.

Heading back down Arrow Boulevard toward my home, I thought of my now-grown children and how happy they used to be on Christmas morning when brightly wrapped packages magically appeared under the Christmas tree. And I thought of the children in my parish and how excited they would be this Christmas morning when brightly wrapped packages magically appeared under their trees.

I am reminded of a wonderful verse inside one of the Christmas cards I sent out a few years ago. Its message now takes on a special meaning all its own:

Blessed are they who see Christmas through the eyes of a child. Let this be your gift at Christmas.

~Lola Di Giulio De Maci

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