I just left the office this Christmas Eve and I’m getting ready to go visit with my family for the holiday. I wept today tears of sadness at the dire situation in a nation far away and also tears of joy to be working together with partners who are truly embracing the spirit of Christmas and giving.
Three years ago I spent Christmas in Italy. It was the first time I was away from the States at Christmas and was pleasantly refreshed by the lack of consumerism that surrounded the holiday in this country. Small gifts were given to family members, but there wasn’t a need to go into debt and give everyone that you know a gift. What a concept. Instead the focus was on family; attending church together and family dinners. I stayed with the Celletti family who took me into their home and gave me a very special Christmas.
This Christmas Eve I am humbled to work for Giving Children Hope. Today we sent a shipment to Zimbabwe to treat 40,000 people for the cholera outbreak. On Monday we have another shipment leaving to serve 80,000. This is in addition to what has already been sent. The hospitals there have been empty with no help in sight. And the great thing is churches have come together to serve the need in the real meaning of Christmas. After all, what was Jesus all about? How should be celebrating the birth of Christ and honoring the Father? Is giving expensive gifts to family members who have everything honoring Jesus?
I’m not saying we should not give gifts at all. I have wonderful family memories that come from giving gifts at Christmas. But somewhere along the way the American consumerism robbed us of what Christmas really means and what we should really be giving. So when churches and other organizations come together and on Christmas Eve we are able to ship medicines to treat over 40,000 I think we are delivering the kind of Christmas gift that honors the birth of Jesus.
As I was on the phone with a pastor today, he recounted horrific stories of doctors and nurses working by candlelight and literally dragging dead children to the morgue in darkness. What a dark picture to think about at Christmas. But that dark picture painted gets replaced with great light when medicines arrive to save lives. After all, Jesus came to save life.
So this Christmas I finally feel like I am partaking in the holiday in the way that is honoring. Giving Children Hope isn’t doing this alone by any means. It takes a village to make a project happen. But when we work together to serve peoples basic needs then I think we get what Christmas is all about. This Christmas I hope that you too are enjoying the real reason for the season!