Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Spirit Of Christmas

"Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world." ~ Calvin Coolidge

Here is a Thanksgiving story which could just as well be a Christmas story:

When I was living in Kansas City, I was in the midst of a long drawn out (and what I considered unnecessary) process of taking custody of my only daughter from my previous marriage. She had been moved out of her mother's home in another town, and temporarily placed in a group home for girls in my town, while the authorities struggled through mounds of red tape, attempting to ascertain whether I would be a fit parent for my own child.

This enabled me to visit her and even take her for day trips while the custodial determination process was processing. A long and tedious process.

We had to go to her group home to visit and pick her up. Most of the other girls, who were between 10 and 15 years of age, were there for other, primarily legal reasons. Many were runaways, and many had been removed from dysfunctional homes. Some had been arrested or had other kinds of legal trouble. Some had been abused physically, mentally, and sexually, by their parents or other family members.

Practically all were lonely, frightened, apprehensive, and suspicious of authority.

One day, shortly before Thanksgiving, my wife and I arrived to take Crystal out to spend a day with us, I noticed several of the other girls looking at us with what can only be described as envy. One of the girls boldly approached me and said, in the most heart rendering voice, "Can I go with you?"

It was at that moment that my heart went out to these girls, almost all of whom rarely had any visits or interaction with their own families, if any at all.

On Thanksgiving day, instead of spending the day with family, eating a sumptuous meal and watching football, My family showed up at the girls home with a complete Thanksgiving dinner, and every girl in the home was presented a small inexpensive gift. Needless to say, the girls were overwhelmed with gratitude. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving day with a whole house full of grateful, happy young ladies, who, at least for that one day, experienced true Christian charity and love.

It was the most wonderful and rewarding holiday I ever experienced.

Incidentally, some of the ladies in our church continued with weekly visits after I won full custody of my daughter, and the last I heard, the ministry is still thriving.

Sometimes, we get so involved in shopping, travel plans, cooking, and cleaning for the Holidays that we forget what's really important about Christmas. It isn't so much what we give to others at Christmas time, but that we simply give. Give our time. Give our love. Give ourselves.

It is the spirit of Christmas. It is the meaning of Christmas.

Today, while you celebrate the birth of Christ, take a few minutes to ponder the significance of it all, and enjoy Christmas.

And now, as my gift to all who happen to visit my humble blog, some videos:



Neil said...

Great story, Mark! What a nice witness.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Merry Christmas, Mark!

Mary said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mark!

Erudite Redneck said...

Merry Christmas, Mark.

Poison Pero said...

Merry Christmas, Mark......And a Happy New Year as well.

I'm allowed to say those here right :)

Abouna said...

Mark, excellent take on the true meaning of Christmas. How much better it would be if people would put away their credit cards and stop wondering what and how much they are going to get from others, and just concentrate on what they can do for those who have no one.

May you and yours have the most blessed Christmas and the best of all New Years.

Dan Trabue said...

Beautiful story, Mark. Bully for you.

Merry Christmas.

Trader Rick said...


Al-Ozarka said...

Merry Christmas, Mark!

Al-Ozarka said...

Merry Christmas, Mark!

Cameron said...

What an awesome story. Merry Christmas!

Tonto said...

I shed a tear on that one. Thank you.

Pamela Reece said...

That should have been a tissue alert!

Mark said...

Thank you all for the kind words, but the story isn't the point. I only offered it as an example of what would be a more fitting way to celebrate Christmas.

Truth be told, I have never shared this experience with anyone up to now, as I don't like to brag about any acts of charity.

Now, as far as this one goes, I have my reward.

Tonto said...

I understand what you mean Mark.

When I was in Rome in 2005 alone with my husband after giving premature birth to my son a group of people mostly Italians who did not know me or speak English took care of me in much the same way you took care of the girls.

My experience is special to me because it was the first time I had expereicned or just known about such charity and certainly the fist time I had recevied it.

When i read your story I knew exactly how those girls felt in the sense of surprise and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that someone you don't know would do this for you. That is why your story made me cry.

Retelling your story is really amazing because we all forget. I had never realized TRULY how just small acts of kindess make such a big difference. It did for me.

Most of us are never going to build a wing onto a children's hospital or adopt 10 kids from around the world.

But that doesn't get us off the hook because you did something just as great.

Henry said...

That's a fantastic story! You're a good man, Mark.

Merry (belated) Christmas and a safe, joyous New Year!

Marie's Two Cents said...

Merry (Late) Christmas and a Happy New Year to you Mark :-)

my_own_reality said...

What did your kids think, having to spend their Thanksgiving in a house full of strange girls?