A Ruby Christmas novella concludes. Ruby returns home after seeing the world. What awaits her? Who awaits her? To read chapter 10 of 11, click here
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Christmas Day, 2004 (A true account)
We met Santa and his wife in the basement of the building. They had been doing this gig for a while. Today was our first time, and our children (11 and 17) were eager for the experience. We pulled on our sweltering Santa hats with the white pompoms on top and followed the big guy up the elevator.
The Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital representative met us on the pediatric oncology floor. We pushed our rolling tray of stuffed bears and tiny blankets down the hall and had to sanitize our hands at every corner. As elves, we were allowed to hand Santa the gifts but we couldn’t enter where the children lay.
We stood by the window of each room and watched the gentle man make each child smile and laugh . . . perhaps even forget her or his pain for a moment. Some were so sick that all they could manage was thanking him through wide eyes and weak smiles.
One father left the room at the sight of his child’s great happiness. He didn’t want his daughter to see him breakdown. The strength it must take! He and his wife had spent the previous months in the hospital attending to their child, and this father’s desire to see “Maggie” run and play around the decorated tree at home had withered. His hopes, unfulfilled.
I could only imagine his sorrow. But I knew why my family had sacrificed our comfort to come here on this special day. His moment of saving-face became our opportunity.
“Can we pray for you?”
PARENTS RARELY SAID NO; EVERY BIT OF SUPPORT WAS WELCOMED.
This father unburdened his heart regarding the many weeks of struggle. “I’d hoped Maggie would’ve been able to come home for Christmas. Hopefully for her birthday next month . . .”
We hit every pediatric floor and prayed for any parent willing to receive. A couple of hours later, the six of us traveled back to the basement with the leftover gifts. How Santa had interacted with a hundred or so kids without shedding a tear, I’ll never know.
My husband, a retired army officer of tough German character, admitted, “I could’ve never held myself together in those rooms.”
“Can we do this again next year?” Our kids had fed the poor and sung in nursing homes, but this endeavor of kindness evidently outranked all those experiences.
Some people enjoy the bustling aspect of this holiday, but I flee from the Santa Claus craze. Daily news coverage proves that our culture is obsessed with materialism.
Okay, maybe I’m going overboard. But, I seriously avoid maniac crowds—even at the loss of a great bargain.
Is it wrong to want to bless your children with gifts? Heavens, no. That’s natural. But our attitude toward the gift(s) does matter. As our pastor says, “Stuff is just stuff.” The question to ask is:
DOES THE STUFF OWN YOU, OR DO YOU OWN THE STUFF?
Do we buy things merely to flaunt? Do we go in debt to keep up with the Jones? Where is my heart?
One way to find out is to buy just one gift. Or go without. Better yet, instead of giving gifts, give time to others who don’t have anything. Is it too late to act? Well, then, evaluate this year and plan now for next year. Spend next Christmas morning at the soup kitchen. At the nursing home. At a children’s home. Pool your family’s funds to buy and deliver necessities to a women’s shelter.
Take your eyes off the gifts under your tree and be a gift to someone else. Then, when you return home to celebrate, you’ll really be able to appreciate what you have.
Give your children the best gift ever: an awareness of what it truly means to need and a spark of compassion that will open their hearts.
How do you rebel against the holiday craze?