Christmas is the time of year when we all find the hope someday we will have peace. It is a time when our perspective changes. We often see the world around us with more possibilities. Something about the hope the celebration of a season to give. Even the people who don’t celebrate the holiday as the celebration of Jesus being born still find good will in their hearts. Hope finds each of us with this season, and reminds us that just like Mary and Joseph finding shelter in a manager God always provides exactly what we need.
Growing up my mom would always take a tag of the angel tree to buy a gift for four children. Since she had four children, she would chose a tag off the angel tree to represent each of her children. Often telling the story about the christmas cheer given to us because of the generosity of others. In a way she felt like because God provided for her children that one christmas, she wanted to help provide a special day for other children and parents that were in the same situation she had once been in.
When I was around the age of 9 years old my mom, brother, and I were living in a trailer my grandmother had bought for us to live in. My mother was a single mom, since she had divorced my father a little over a year before. We moved to West Virginia from New Jersey because mom had lost her job during the divorce hearings. She needed family to help her out until getting back on her feet, and her mother lived in West Virginia. We moved during the middle of the school year. The first several months we lived with my Great Grandma. Then my grandmother bought a two bedroom trailer for us to live in once my mom had found a job. The deal was she would pay the lot rent for the trailer park, and give grandma monthly payments towards the cost of the trailer. Mom wanted to better herself to create a future for herself and us, so she started taking night classes at the local community college. She had skipped college when she graduated from high school and instead got married right away and started a family. All I know is she struggled like many single parents. It was hard making enough money to cover the expenses and the needs of two children.
It was to be our first Christmas in the new home, and mom had told us we might not be able to get much for Christmas that year. Knowing she would not have any money to put towards christmas presents for her two kids, she registered for a local drawing with the boy scouts. It was a service project, the boy scouts would choose one family to sponsor for christmas. They would go out and buy presents to give the sponsored family. When mom would share the story with us years later, all the worry she had would show up on her face as she remembered. Mom shared how she was afraid not a single thing was going to be under the tree on christmas morning. She told us how she prayed to God asking for him to provide a way for us to have a happy holiday, especially after all we had been through with the divorce. God answered her pray that Christmas. Our family was chosen from the list of those who had entered to win the drawing. I remember how we had more presents than I had ever seen. I never knew until later it was all from the boys scouts. For my mom the greatest gift was not the number of presents we received, instead it was the way God answered her prayer beyond expectation. It was not answered how she expected. She was able to get us each a couple gifts after all because she received a back child support check. Beyond that when the boy scouts came. Mom will share with us kids if asked how surprised she was as dozens of gifts were presented through the door to find a home under our Christmas tree the night of Christmas Eve. She only expected a few things to be dropped off.
We had lost everything in the divorce. The night mom finally left my father, he had come home drunk. He began yelling and screaming and hitting her like he did when he was high or drunk. She often describes how the Lord gave her strength to leave that night. She packed a few suit cases and took us to the car and left. We had toys, just the few clothes that she could fit in the suitcase. It didn’t matter to mom. SHe knew she needed to finally leave. It was tough not having anything. She had gotten us a few things while at my uncle’s house. I remember a doll baby the church gave me to take home on sunday. She was able to go and get things from the apartment a few weeks after with the help of the cops, but my dad had sold most of the stuff. I remember the few toys she brought back to the place we were staying I was missing half of things. Like I got one roller skate, the other was gone. I had a few baby dolls but they were all naked, dad had taken the clothes only giving us the dolls. I am not sure why he would do such a thing, but I imagine now it was a way for him to believe she would come back. When we finally moved to West Virginia, we were starting over. You might imagine how it might feel to children of 9 and 4 to get so many presents when they had lost everything just a year before.
When I think of this story, I often think about the other families who were hoping to be chosen to be sponsored. I hope God provided for them just as he had provided for the answer to my mom’s prayers. I know in my heart he did. It is still one of my happiest Christmas memories. It has nothing to do with how many presents we received, but instead it has to do with how even when we see no hope. Even when we lose everything, Jesus is there to give us what we need. As a 9 year old he knew that I needed to see the hope of Christmas. The hope sometimes you get more than expected. I was expecting a few presents because mom had been telling us not to expect too much. At the age of 9, I knew she was struggling. Can you imagine how it felt to wake up on Christmas morning and see how even after everything is lost, the spirit of christmas can surprise you? The memory still tugs at my heart even today. Joseph and Mary found God’s provision the first Christmas, and two children and a mother found his provision after a very long year of difficulty. I pray for your Christmas miracle, and a reminder from God to show you how much he provides, even in your darkest hour.