Reviewing our current ‘Christmas trend,’ I see a big build up leading to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, celebrating the birth of our Saviour on December 25th, with an almost unbelievable and instantaneous shift to Boxing Day (and week) sales and super deals, and now to what is (this year at least) a very cold and frigid journey with ‘old man Winter’ bringing temperatures (with wind chill) to -39°celcius. Whatever happened to Jesus? The ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ (not the partridge and the pear tree version) is actually a season designed to continue the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
In keeping with this, I want to tell you the story, ‘The Christmas Hampers’. When I was having lunch with Tessa (OIM’s Christmas Story – still in our archives on the blog page) before we went to do our taping at CHRI, she told me their little family of four didn’t have enough money to have a Christmas dinner. Afterwards I made a call to a partnering church that was going to collect dinners and deliver hampers and asked if there was enough for another hamper delivery. They said yes.
To make a long story shorter, we obtained Christmas dinner hampers for four family ‘units’ made up of street kids from our art group who had capacity to cook, and Moira our youth outreach worker and I delivered them on December 21. It was an amazing day!
We mostly think of giving hampers to families who would have a mediocre Christmas and a meager Christmas dinner. Folks who are well-deserving, maybe having difficulty making ends meet, who can’t afford lavish gifts and so on. It’s like boosting something small to make it better.
This was not that.
This was giving a hamper to folks who have no Christmas at all. None. No tinsel. No gifts. No ornaments. Not even a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. One of the places we visited, a bachelor apartment, you could sit on the bed, turn on the stove and run water in the small sink without getting up. No decorations or anything. Nothing.
Something happened when those hampers came into those dark, dismal, ill furnished rooms. Everything changed. Time stood still as kids rampaged through the cardboard hamper box with squeals, shouts and exclamations of joy, appreciation and, well, it was just like Christmas.
It was one of the most heart-warming experiences ever!
At the first home, there were a few guys who were super happy to get the hamper, and invited us in for ‘a tour’ of the place(!). Two ‘families’ invited us in for tea or hot chocolate, but sorry, no marshmallows.
I dropped Moira off and proceeded over to Hull to deliver the final hamper before heading home.
I located the residence and sent a text to the couple with the ten month old infant. I sat in my car and sent this text:
“Hi guys. Ken here. I’m in your driveway. I brought Christmas. Come on out.”
I sent the text and then stopped.
I stared in amazement at what I had written: “I brought Christmas”.
A flood of emotion cascaded over me as I recalled the other three hamper deliveries and what that meant to those families. If we had not done that, there would be no Christmas. They wouldn’t just have a watered down, or ‘small Christmas’, they would have nothing. No Christmas. Nada.
In my mind’s eye I saw how these kids were just so like the kids in our lives on Christmas morning: the joy, the surprise, the magic and more – the feeling of being loved, the sense that someone cared about them, they weren’t forgotten.
Thoughts rushed my mind: ‘No, it’s not me. It’s the church committee. No. It’s the many people who bought groceries enough to distribute to 80 families. No, it’s more than that. We all had a part in this. It’s the supporters, the prayer warriors, the volunteers who help make OIM happen, who give and give and give, and maybe never see first-hand, the fruit of their labours.’
This is so much more than me delivering hampers. It’s about your Christmas contribution. It’s about your donation, your prayer, your caring and love for the broken, the rejected and the forgotten.
But this Christmas there were a few who weren’t forgotten. A few who felt the true meaning of Christmas – of giving, of sharing – the message, ‘I love you.’
It’s still the best message ever! Happy New Year!