The Glow of Giving ~ by Jill Felts, compelling-creations.com (Copyright 2012, Jill Felts, not to be re-published without permission)
“For it is in the giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
In 1991 we lived in a tiny apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. Early that December we had a window leak, so a handyman and I spent the better part of a week together in our small living room. Near the end of the week I asked him if he knew of anyone going through a tough time who had young children, because I wanted to help out with buying Christmas gifts. He was quiet for a few moments and then said, “Is it too bold of me to ask for this gift… I have four kids and it’s been a rough year.”
His joyful spirit never gave a hint of his struggles. I was so excited to help his family. He gave me the ages of his kids, their interests, and their special Santa requests. We agreed that I would give him the wrapping paper so he and his wife could have the joy of giving the gifts. It was a tearful moment for both of us.
When he came back the next week to pick up the toys, he burst out crying while he bear hugged me. We both cried tears of joy and gratitude. I will never forget the depth of emotion we shared.His story may stop there…. his 1991 Christmas miracle. My story doesn’t.
I basked in the glow of giving all year that year. I couldn’t wait to do it again and feel the warmth of giving the following Christmas. We found another family in a rough spot and my husband and I agreed to meet the father with wrapping paper and unwrapped toys so he, too, could have the joy and ownership of wrapping his children’s gifts.
As we knocked on his door, we had Christmas in our hearts and anticipation of being wrapped in the warmth of gratitude. The door opened wide to a family young and old. Without any pleasantries, they swiftly grabbed the gift bags, nodded, and slammed the door in our faces.
We stood there in shock with the closed door inches from our noses. Slowly we turned to each other and started to chuckle in total disbelief at the speed of the exchange. We walked back to the car shaking our heads trying to parse together what had just happened.
I am grateful for the juxtaposition of these Christmases. This quick exchange taught me a greater lesson than the warmth of the first. Didn’t Jesus heal ten lepers, and only one came back to give thanks? (Luke 17:15-16). Lack of gratitude didn’t stop Jesus from giving and it wasn’t going to stop me.
Give, give, and give as Jesus did with no expectations. The warmth of the bear hug and tears shared in 1991 is enough to sustain me forever.