36. A Borrowed Christmas

36. A Borrowed Christmas

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

A Borrowed Christmas

Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely home, and home, sweet home for there the heart can rest.

~Henry van Dyke

Due to my husband being out of work our little family had been living with friends for a few months. At the time, our son Max wasn’t quite two. As the holiday season approached I found myself growing anxious. What would Christmas be like in someone else’s home? The couple we were living with had grown children who would be visiting during the season. Would we be in the way?

I couldn’t help feeling a little sad. Everything in our lives felt borrowed. It wasn’t easy to be a family in need, relying on the kindness of others to make it through. I feared being a burden. Especially at Christmas.

I soon found I needn’t have worried. We were warmly included in their large Thanksgiving celebration, becoming an extension of their family. In the following days our friends naturally included us in Christmas planning. Rarely had I felt more welcomed into someone’s life.

One night in early December the talk over dinner was about getting a Christmas tree. Our hostess asked if I wanted to put some of our decorations on the tree. The offer touched my heart. The next day I rummaged through our boxes looking for our family Christmas ornaments.

A couple of days later we set up the tree. Snow blanketed the little white cottage in the woods, and a fire crackled in the stone fireplace, giving us a cozy, tucked in feeling. Christmas music played as we decorated. I brought my little box of ornaments out to add to the tree.

Sitting on the floor with my toddler I handed him our decorations to hang on the fragrant branches. But Max didn’t stop with our ornaments; he went between our family’s box and our friend’s box of decorations, hanging ornaments without discrimination. His happy chatter and enthusiastic admiration of the Christmas finery lightened our hearts.

As I watched the tree fill up with two families’ Christmas memories I realized what I thought was an unfortunate circumstance was really quite the opposite. Christmas had taken on a new meaning. The gift of love we celebrate at Christmastime became a tangible reality to my little family that year. Our need was met with kind generosity. Max’s life was enriched by more love than we could have imagined.

On Christmas Day I understood in a new way why a “weary world rejoices.” Our need sets the stage for receiving great gifts.

~Beck Gambill

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