The Christmas season is with us already and many decorations and trees are up. Kids are looking forward to what is under the tree and the day when they can open up all the gifts they got. As a child I always looked forward to Christmas time just as much as many other children did. All my family would get together - aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. and we would have some of the most delicious food a Mexican family can have. Tamales, beans and rice, atole (a thick chocolate hot drink), and great desserts.
One year my parents bought us our Christmas gifts early in December. We were asked to pick whatever gift we wanted. We couldn’t believe it. Were our parents losing it? Was this a joke? Were we on hidden camera show? So we did as they said. We chose some very cool toys and other things. After that my parents announced that we would be going to Mexico the following week to spend Christmas with our family there. It was a three-day trip but we loved visiting our family in Mexico.
We embarked on the journey, staying in hotels and eating out, which was the best part, since we rarely did that. We finally arrived at our destination and did all the pleasantries with our family. Dad instructed us to leave our new toys in the car and take out only the older ones. We thought it was a good idea because we did not want our cousins to mess up our new toys, plus we wanted to show them off a little later. Christmas dinner came and as we finished eating, my dad told us to get our most beloved and favorite toys out of the car and give them to our cousins. Our jaws dropped, our eyes opened wide and I felt like dad was playing a terrible joke on us. But, no, he was serious. He explained that our cousins did not have the money to buy such nice toys in Mexico and that these toys were not even sold there. I could not believe what I heard! I wanted to cry, scream or run away yelling nooooooooooo! Then he told us that Christmas was not about getting things but rather giving what we could to put a smile on someone’s face, to warm another’s heart, and to show what being a Christian is all about.
In those days we did not argue with dad; we just did what he said. When we presented our brand new toys to our cousins, the look on their faces was priceless. They could not believe that we would give them our new toys. They were so happy and overwhelmed with gratitude that I realized I had done the right thing. I wasn’t happy about it but I knew it was the right thing. We spent that night playing with our ex-toys, my cousin’s now new toys, but it felt really nice.
As parents, it is very easy to teach our kids the art of receiving. We want to give them all we can just to see that smile on their faces and receive their praise. But Christmas is also a perfect time to teach our children about giving and what that does to others. God gave us the greatest gift of all, because of Love. He gave us Jesus! Because of Him we now have a way to forgiveness, a way to salvation, a way to heaven. Jesus gave His all to us; He gave Himself. What a perfect example of love!
This season I recommend that we give more to those that are in need, to those that need a hug, to those that need someone to listen, to those that need support, to those that need to be lifted up. Let’s be givers more than receivers. Be an example to your children, so they can have right in their own homes a role model for giving. May you enjoy this special time of the year and remember, as my second graders told me, it is Jesus’ birthday that we are celebrating.