Dear friends, On this beautiful Christmas Eve, wherever you are in the world, I wish you joy.
I wrote a post for Multiply Goodness about my assignment, which was the very last of the 24 days – to gladden someone’s heart. The whole month was one of gladdening hearts. Not just others, but our own. Content is no longer available at Multiply Goodness, so I’ve included it here.
Here we are. The last of our #24DaysofGiving. And what a journey!
Was your experience the same as ours? A joy-journey that absolutely made our Christmas!
Every day of giving enlarged our hearts, turned us outward, and connected us with so many different people. Ones we knew. Ones we didn’t.
We dropped donuts Saturday evening at the Fire Station. The three firemen on duty were preparing dinner when we knocked on the door. I said, “You don’t know us, but we want to wish you a Merry Christmas!” They said, “Well, let’s get to know you! Come on in!”
“Jacobs” (pictured above) gave the kids a tour of the new station and even let them start the firetruck. They couldn’t have been friendlier.
Another day we took ten years of loose change we’d been gathering to our local bell ringer. I thought he could just unlock his kettle and we could pour it in. Nope. “I’m powerless,” he said. So we sat there for 15 minutes and visited while the kids slid their hundreds of pennies into that tiny slot.
“Rivers of Pennies!” he said, laughing. When we left, we slipped him a card, a gift of his own to enjoy. With a note that said, “Thank you for being kind and friendly. And for ringing your bell of joy and gladness.”
We were surprised by the undeniable and genuine happiness that filled us as we reached outside our comfort zones, and ourselves.
Today’s task, as I reflect on all the other days, is really a summation of the month. Didn’t every day of giving gladden someone’s heart?
A note, a text, a secret gift, a profession of love or appreciation.
One Sunday we visited with our 96 year old neighbor, Maggie. Brought her sweets and fruit. Serenaded her with carols. The kids made her cards. We asked about her life, took a few photos, hugged. And later in the week she left us a message on our voicemail. “Your visit stayed with me all week.”
Another day, we made a memory book for our 13-yr-old cousin, who recently lost her best friend in a tragic accident. The children watercolored pictures, wrote out what they believed. From my 9 year old daughter who painted a new angel above the earth, “I know that she is in Heaven. And that it will all be all right. Never doubt.”
This experience taught us when you can’t gladden a heart, you can cradle it, try to understand it, and mourn with those whose hearts are broken.
Whenever possible we gave anonymously. Which meant we didn’t get to see the gladdening. Sometimes it filtered back to us. In an overheard conversation. But there was so much beauty in these true gifts of charity. In giving with no expectation of anything in return. Not even to see the smile on their face.
One evening this month, while reading Tilly’s Christmas to my children, by Louisa May Alcott, we happened upon this beautiful quote.
“The best and dearest of all Christmas angels is called ‘Charity’… She walks abroad at Christmastime doing beautiful deeds like this, and never staying to be thanked” (75).
The words caught in my throat and tears crept out the corners of my eyes.
Tonight we will be with family, eating our traditional ham dinner, reenacting the nativity, listening to my Dad read from Luke 2. But earlier in the day, we will make one last stop. At Emma’s house.
Emma is our sweet neighbor, age 17, who was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. Emma is the kind of girl who hugs you when you stop to ask how she’s doing, smiles when she has something to cry about, and is firm. In mind and spirit.
But dealing with brain cancer is tough. My mother is currently fighting her second brain tumor, so we know a little of the path Emma will go down. Today we will take her my mother’s favorite scripture. Printed on a tile she can put in her bedroom.
It’s a verse that has kept my mother calm during MRIs, and given her hope in a loving Savior, whom she believes makes everything, even the hard and heart-breaking, work for our good.
It is Jesus speaking to Jairus, upon hearing about the death of his daughter. Luke 8:50.
“Fear Not; Believe Only.”
Merry Christmas dear readers. And givers. No doubt this month you have been the angels Alcott writes about, walking abroad at Christmastime doing beautiful, selfless deeds.
On this Christmas Eve, may your hearts be gladdened, cradled, enlarged, and filled with believing.
Feeling thankful for all the goodness in my life this Christmas. Thankful for you. For your words here, your example, support, and love.
Hope your heart is enlarged, comforted, and gladdened this Christmas.
And as the angel said to Mary and the shepherds, I hope we can replace fear of the unknown, the challenging, and even the heart-breaking, with believing in Jesus. With whom all things are possible.