What Christmas is all about
By Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
We all know Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving, inspired by the fact that God gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus, more than 2,000 years ago. But how is that sense of giving lived out in the real world? Here are a few stories to help you better celebrate the season.
If children from low-income families had to choose between accepting a Christmas gift for themselves or giving a present to their parents, what do you think they would do? The video production company Rob Bliss Creative decided to find out by offering that choice to members of the Lawrenceville, GA, Boys and Girls Club. Their story was featured on the Today Show. Though the kids were presented with high-end gifts for themselves, from toys to computer gaming systems, 80 percent of them opted to give something to their parents instead. Aaron Freeman, age nine, was offered an expensive Lego set, for instance. But he said, “Legos don’t matter. Your family matters…So, it’s either family or Legos, and I choose family.”
Looking at the spiritual side of Christmas, the late British actor David Niven, who stars in the holiday staple The Bishop’s Wife, once gave the gift of courage to the men with whom he was spending Christmas Eve. In 1939, Niven volunteered for the British Army in the early days of World War II and was “commissioned a second lieutenant and given command of a platoon” due to his military experience. Recalling the incident in “Guideposts,” he recalled that the 40 men serving under him were not thrilled to be led by an actor.
On Christmas Eve, the platoon found themselves housed in a “shabby stable” because they were shipping out the next day. Already uncomfortable, Niven wondered if he should follow his lifelong ritual of kneeling down by his bed and saying a simple prayer before going to bed. He worried that his men might see it as “a final evidence of Hollywood flamboyance.”
“Finally,” he wrote, “I summoned up my courage and knelt by my bunk. As I prayed, there was some snickering at first, but it soon died away. When I finished and lay down on the straw, I looked rather sheepishly around the stable and saw at least a dozen soldiers kneeling quietly and praying in their own way. It was not the first time God had entered a stable—and touched the hearts of men.”
An entire family’s life was touched by Christmas kindness during the 1980s, when Michael Shearer of Pittsburgh, PA, lost his job at a local steel company and was struggling to support his wife and five children.
Writing in “Our Sunday Visitor,” Shearer recalled, “It was going to be another bleak Christmas when the phone rang…It was our priest, Father Ed, and he told me to bring our old station wagon down to the church. He then proceeded to tell me to load up the car with neatly wrapped presents (a lot of them), a new bike and a few boxes full of food… A family had anonymously adopted us for Christmas. When I brought the treasures home, the kids squealed with delight and my wife cried. We then proceeded to have the finest Christmas in memory. I was ever so thankful to God, Father Ed and the family that did this. They gave and we received, but the glory went to Almighty God who blessed a destitute family with a very meaningful Christmas!”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note PEACE: THE ESSENCE OF THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com