I had finally gathered up the courage to say it. ‘Kids, there will not be a Christmas tree or gifts this year because I simply do not have the money.’
It was Christmas, 1981, and I had been in much anguish over having to tell my four children that other than the gift their Grandmother had mailed them, there would be no Christmas gifts. But I hadn’t counted on their response:
‘O, Mom, that’s ok, don’t worry about it. We’ve got plenty of things and we don’t need any gifts and we don’t need no tree any way.’ And of course, because they were so loving and supportive, it hurt all the more, especially knowing they didn’t have ‘plenty of things.’
Being a single parent family, holidays, and especially Christmas, were always hard. There was always a lack of money and this year was especially difficult.
About four days before Christmas, I heard a noise and looking out my front window I saw the back of a car as it pulled away. I opened the door to find a Christmas tree on my porch along with three sacks of groceries. I said, ‘O Father, thank You.’ The kids were absolutely ecstatic. We don’t know to this day who brought that tree but I do believe it was the loveliest tree we ever had.
I still didn’t have any gifts other than the ones my Mom had sent. I had prayed, ‘Father, I so want to get my children something for Christmas. I don’t have any money but I know You care and what’s important to me is important to You. Please work it out.’
I had heard that the Salvation Army was taking appointments for families who were low income so I called and made an appointment for the following day. The closer the time came to my appointment the busier things were at work and as it turned out, I was not able to get away. I was so upset I cried and I said ‘O Father, there goes my last chance of getting anything for my children. I just don’t understand.’
Then I thought, ‘Well, I’ll call and see if I can reschedule for tomorrow’ because it was the last day. I called and sure enough, I was able to get an appointment for 2:00.
The next day at one-thirty I headed into town and got held up in traffic like you wouldn’t believe which threw me half an hour late. I cried and cried and said, ‘Father, I just don’t understand. Yesterday I missed the appointment altogether and today I’m late and I was the very last appointment they made and they’ve probably gathered things all up and everything’s already gone. I just don’t understand. But Father, I’m just going to trust in You. I’ve just got to trust that You know what’s going on and I’m sorry I have such a rotten attitude about it. I know it’s not right. I’m hurt, Father, but I just leave it all up to You. Please work it out.’
Arriving at the Salvation Army I asked, ‘Am I too late?’ They responded, ‘Well, no, not really. We’re closed down but the tables are still set up so you can go on in and instead of the one gift that you would have had to take if you had been here at 2:00, go ahead and take as many as you want because there’s nobody else scheduled. My stunned mind thought, ‘O my, Father,’ as I walked into a large room where there were long tables set up from wall to wall, divided into age groups. I just stood there in amazement because there was still so much to choose from: a chess game that my son really wanted, and mittens and caps, and drawing paper and chalk, and books, and wooden toys and oh, so much more.
They handed me a five-foot-long paper sack, the largest I had ever seen, and I walked around from table to table, gathering up the best Christmas we had ever had. My heart was completely overwhelmed by the immensity of the answer to my hearts’ cry. My heart spontaneously prayed, ‘O, thank You, Father, thank You. If I had been here thirty minutes ago or if I had been here yesterday, I would have missed out on this ultimate blessing because I’m the last one to arrive and they have said to take however much of whatever I want.’ I picked out four or five gifts for each of my children while my heart gave thanks to the Lord, ‘O Father, Your timing is so perfect and You care so much for Your children.’
I really had one blessed time driving home, my heart overflowing with joy and praise.
I had not mentioned anything to the kids about the appointment. Arriving home, I sneaked the gifts into the house, wrapped them and when they were all in bed, I tucked them under the tree. When they walked into the room the next morning, they were astounded and I was able to share with them how our Heavenly Father had provided every bit of it. Their young hearts were encouraged as their own faith and confidence in Him was strengthened.
Our Father cares, O, how He cares.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19