“Whoo-hoo!” Sam danced around the kitchen holding the letter. “First prize, Mom. Can you believe that? I’ll be able to get a bike…and that radio-control jeep I showed you…and a new rugby ball…all for painting one small picture.”
Mom smiled. “You deserve it Sam. You’re always sharing with others and God sees your generous heart.”
He looked back at the letter in his hand. Attached was a voucher for $1000 to spend at Lamberts Department Store.
After school the next day, a gleaming car pulled up at his house. A young woman with silky curls knocked on the door. “Hi, Sam. My name’s Joanne. Are you ready to go Christmas shopping?”
As she drove, Sam told her what he planned to buy. “Definitely a bicycle. A shiny blue one with disc brakes and twelve gears. And a huge radio control jeep. I’d also like some paints and brushes and maybe a new rugby ball.”
The toy section was a giant grotto with sparkling lights, glittery tinsel and dazzling Christmas displays. Sam stopped to gaze at Santa on a snowy throne, surrounded by stacks of presents and golden-winged fairies.
“Right, Sam. You look around and if you like something, I’ll write it on the list.” Joanne followed him as he tested out bikes and tossed balls. As he stared up at towers of blocks and dashed past rows of red-cheeked dolls. As he examined painting sets and science kits and ran his hand across shelves of books. He had never seen so many toys but something was niggling in his mind.
It started to make sense when he spotted the Nativity display. A simple stable-scene where Mary and Joseph watched over baby Jesus. A stable where shepherds bowed before the young King and wise men knelt with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
It was the gifts that caught his attention. Christmas was a time for giving, right? It was the time when God sent Jesus as a gift to the world. He thought about Mom. She looked so tired these days and her clothes were old and faded. Sometimes he heard her crying like the time she dropped her last bottle of perfume and when the springs on her favourite chair popped out.
He stood still for a moment, struggling to arrange his thoughts. After a while he turned to Joanne. “You can cross all that stuff off the list. I know exactly what I want but I’m going to need your help.” He cast one last, lingering look across the toys before following her downstairs.
The next day, Mom was busy in the kitchen when the shiny-white Lamberts’ van arrived. Sam opened the door to the driver. “Come in. I’ve made space over here for the parcels.” He’d just finished arranging them when Mom came through, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel.
“Oh, Sam. This is so exciting!” She looked across the gaily wrapped boxes. “But where’s your bicycle?” Sam smiled as he handed her a special hand-painted card. Dear Mom. This is going to be my best Christmas ever. Thank you for being my Mom. I love you, Sam.
She looked up at him, not understanding. “You open them, Mom.” She started crying after unwrapping the first box. As she pulled out a plump turkey and stuffing and all the trimmings. As she discovered a new chair to watch TV from. And a coffee maker and a toaster. And a whole bag of dresses and underwear that Joanne helped him choose. And some makeup and perfume, and a box of chocolates and a voucher for a hair cut.
It was true, Sam thought as she grabbed him and squeezed him tight. As she wiped her tears away and scolded him for wasting his gift on her. As she blew her nose and said it was the most wonderful thing anyone had ever done for her. It was true that Christmas really was a time for giving.
Neither of them noticed that the white Lamberts van was still outside. That the driver was unloading more parcels and packages and stacking them, quiet as a mouse, on the front doorstep. A shiny blue bicycle with disc brakes and twelve gears. A huge radio control jeep. A fancy set of paints and brushes, a new rugby ball and a whole pile of other things besides. The card on top simply read, Merry Christmas to a fine, young man. With love from Lamberts Department Store.
Romans 12:6 and 8 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.” NIV
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