A little tree in our meeting room had names of the children with their gift request. We were to select one or more and buy their Christmas. Some of us would be privileged to deliver it just prior to the holiday.
The down side for me is that I was a struggling single mom on a tight budget. I hoped others would be able to give but realized I couldn't. I meandered by the tree and peeked at the names. One stood out: Justin. I didn't take his name. I couldn't afford to.
The next week, Justin was still there. He weighed on my heart. Meeting after meeting I checked on Justin. Finally I thought, "If he's still there, I'll take him. Somehow I'll find the money even when I don't have it."
He was there. I thoroughly enjoyed shopping for him...and yes, somehow, I found the money. I imagined what he would be like from his gift list. He was a stranger. He was nothing like me. Then I was privileged to be part of the delivery team that sang carols with the children and delivered our gifts. This Justin could have been my son! My heart was so full I vowed to find a way to give beyond my circle of loved ones in some way every year...and I have.
Why was this so life-changing for me? The obvious reason is that I quit letting money rule my life. But that's not the real reason. The real reason is that I have a son in Heaven named Justin. I realized that if he were here, I would always find money and time for whatever he needed. This tradition became part of what psychologists call my "grief work." You see, a mother's heart loves forever, even when life as we know it ends. I am more fulfilled and cope with life better when I give beyond myself.
"...For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life."
Prayer of St. Francis
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Handling the Holidays with a Heavy Heart
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