Time for a Change

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and I had been out of grad­u­ate school a cou­ple of years when we could fi­nally af­ford the Christ­mas gifts that our lit­tle girls re­ally wanted. We told them they could make a list and let them look through some ad­ver­tise­ments. But soon they were over­come by the com­mer­cial­ism of the sea­son.

I found my­self long­ing for those sim­ple Christ­mases cen­tered on fam­ily as the girls fret­ted more and more about what they wanted. It was time to do some­thing about it, so Donna and I found a strug­gling fam­ily who had chil­dren who were the same ages as our girls.

“This year,” I told my daugh­ters, “we are go­ing to give Christ­mas away. You will still get to choose some things, but they will be for a child your age who has greater needs than you.”

I was sur­prised at the ea­ger­ness my daugh­ters showed for this. They spent even more time hap­pily pick­ing out presents: clothes, a nice coat and two toys. Donna and I bought warm clothes for the par­ents and a full Christ­mas din­ner. We added a box of or­anges and bas­kets of fruit and cook­ies.

MY WIFE, DONNA,

On Christ­mas Eve, we loaded ev­ery­thing into our car and drove to the fam­ily’s apart­ment. Donna played Santa and took ev­ery­thing to the front door in three trips. We had our car win­dows open, and our lit­tle girls were lis­ten­ing in­tently. When they heard Donna’s loud knock­ing on the door and then her feet pound­ing down the stairs, they squealed with ex­cite­ment. We heard a young woman’s voice call out, “Thank you.” Donna and our girls yelled back, “You’re wel­come!” The next day we opened our few presents, played card games, built a snow­man and went sled­ding. In the evening, I read sto­ries to my daugh­ters. We talked about how the Christ­mas sea­son is about love, friends and fam­ily, just as it was two mil­len­nia ago when a baby be­came the new­est mem­ber of a spe­cial fam­ily.

As we fin­ished the sto­ries, my daugh­ters snug­gled up in my arms. My old­est girl broke the si­lence. “Daddy, I want to give away Christ­mas again next year.” I replied, “Me, too.” St. An­thony, Idaho

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