“I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world.” Norman Vincent Peale
For some, Christmas is a time of peace, joy and love. For others it is a time of struggle. I have the privilege of walking through this season with people on both sides of Christmas. As the leader of the Christmas Campaign for our local community Salvation Army, I’m honoured to be part of an incredible team that brings Christmas to over 500 families (including approximately 1000 children). I walk hand in hand with volunteers who have the resources or time to give and come to serve in various ways. Many walk away in tears, overwhelmed by the need in our community and the help which we provide. I also walk hand in hand with parents who summon enough courage to come and ask for help, with food and toys at Christmas for their families. I am truly humbled by both the volunteers and the parents.
The month of December for me is a month of stories – incredible, powerful, transforming stories. A 96 year old man comes in to make his yearly donation. He shares stories of his time during the war and how the SA always provided hot coffee and dry socks to the soldiers. It’s the stories of volunteers that were helped by the SA years ago when they were suffering, and are now in a place where they can give back. Sadly, it’s also stories of struggle – many, many sad, heart-breaking stories of struggle. But yet, they are also stories of HOPE.
The following story is one that I’ve told a few times during various speaking engagements this season. This story has brought me to tears.
A mom came in to have an interview with one of our volunteers, prior to receiving a pick up date for her hamper (toys and food). After the interview, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with her. I asked her if this was her first time in. She replied that no, she had come for the first time last year. She had just left an abusive relationship and it was just her and her two children. She had told the children at the time, that they wouldn’t have much of a Christmas. In the true innocence of children, they told their mom that it was ok, as long as they were together. Then someone told her about the SA Christmas hampers. Having never had to ask for help before, she got the courage to come in for the sake of her children. Well, this mom went on to say that she was overwhelmed by the love and support that she received. The best part was that on Christmas morning, the children came into the living room and there were presents under the tree. They looked at their mom and asked, “Mom, how did you make this miracle happen?” Yep, a miracle happened. Every single toy or food donation is a miracle waiting to happen. This small family, who were broken and abused, had found hope and love.
Both the mom and I cried.
All those stories are what Christmas is to me. It’s the stories of hope and miracles. The very best story of all is the story of hope that came to us as an infant, that very first Christmas. Jesus is the ultimate hope. You can see his work performed everyday throughout the year, but especially during the month that we celebrate His birth. December is a month of stories where people experience unconditional love and hope.
To everyone that reads my words, I thank you for being part of my story -my story of hope, forgiveness and redemption. Whatever your December of stories looks like to you, I pray that it is also a story of hope, forgiveness and redemption for you.
Merry, Merry Christmas!!
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”