Many years ago, my family had all been very sick right before Christmas. Someone had strep, another had the flu and I had a bit of a cold. Another had pneumonia. We were sick and the only time I left the house was to get food or medication. We all managed to go to Christmas Eve service. Afterwards, we stopped at the only open store, Walgreen’s. We only had a few little presents for each other. Looking at all the cutesy gifts and Christmas candy, I passed by a woman several times. She had a cart full of games, toys, and other little stocking stuffers. I tried to smile at her or say Merry Christmas but she avoided eye contact. Looking back, she actually looked worried, nervous and afraid.
Later, we heard a loud commotion coming from the front of the store. As I walked over to see what was going on, the manager came inside the store out of breath. He said the woman ran out of the store without paying for the things in her cart. He had run outside to get her license plate number.
I felt really terrible for the lady. I could tell she loved her children. She wanted to get them all something special for Christmas, but didn’t have the money. If she had asked, I would have made a contribution. I’m sure any of the people in the store would have helped out. The store may have even helped. I just know running out of the store without paying wasn’t a great solution because the police would be searching for her and she would end up in jail. I imagined the look of shock on her kids’ faces as the police took away their Mommy in handcuffs!
It left quite an impression on my mind as I thought about how I hadn’t done much of any shopping either. My kids already knew the situation and were totally okay with it. I didn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to not have anything for them. I still loved them! When I was growing up, Santa Claus didn’t come to our house. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know who Santa Claus was. We were poor. I didn’t look forward to Christmas because I didn’t know about it! It doesn’t mean I missed out on anything though. It just wasn’t my reality.
Many stores invest lots in advertising at Christmas time to get people to buy. Still, I wish people would not pressure themselves to buy their kids expensive gifts they cannot really afford for their children. I wish they would simply say, “I love you” and spend time having fun with their families. It doesn’t have to be the huge thing our society has turned it into. I wish it was more about celebrating one another, being kind to one another and just loving on each other rather than buying expensive gifts. Giving gifts are nice but the reality is that not everyone is going to get one and that’s just the way it is. We should tell the kids the truth that Santa Claus is not real! Some say, “Oh it’s fun though!” It’s fun to tell kids a lie? I don’t think so! The truth will set you free!
Let yourself off the hook if you don’t have the money! It’s okay. No one is going to jail if you don’t have a Christmas present for anyone. We lose the joy of Christmas time by stressing out over buying the perfect gift. If you want to give, give out of the love in your heart and what you have. It is nice giving and receiving gifts, but it’s unnecessary. When people are stealing and fighting in the stores over gifts, we’ve forgotten the true meaning of gift giving and Christmas time.