An unexpected gift

I told a story at the FaithWorks! Family Christmas Eve service about a little girl that I read with every week. If you weren’t there to hear it, I shared that she and her little brother live with her grandparents and they attend Harrison Primary Center. About a week prior to Christmas, during the course of reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” together, I learned that Santa does not come to their house. “We do not have money,” she told me. “But I say that is okay,” she goes on as I fight back the tears (thinking of the pile of presents waiting at home to be wrapped for my children) and respond to this eight year old with, “You are a very big girl for saying that!”

Well, with the permission of her teachers and grandparents, my family picked out what we thought would be the perfect gifts for these two children! We also packed a bag with some food and set out to deliver these to her family on the evening of Christmas Eve. My little friend was not home, as we wanted the gifts to be a surprise.

And I have been waiting patiently to talk with her and hear about her Christmas!

Today I went to Harrison for our weekly reading time together and casually asked about winter break as we walked to the library.

Her nature is to be on the quiet side, and she’s a little shy, but told me that her uncle bought her a bracelet and that Santa brought her a doll. I asked a few details about her gifts and reminded her with a smile that she said Santa usually was not able to come. She returned my smile!

Trying to find out a little more, without being pushy, I asked a few more questions like:
“Were the presents under the tree?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“What did you do when you saw them?”
“I said thank you,” she replied.

I couldn’t let it stop there, as I was thinking about how excited my kids get and how wound up they can be on Christmas morning. So I asked one more question (well, two actually):
“Did Santa bring something for your brother?” and
“What did you do….did you say, ‘LOOK! Look under the tree!” and

“I said ‘thank you’ before I opened them,” she replied. With a smile.

My return smile and nod left the conversation there. I didn’t want to make too big a deal out of it and blow my cover. But wow. This little girl, this eight year old girl, who I worry about “not having enough,” is certainly filled.

And I have so much to learn from her. Today I ponder Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 4, verses 11-13 (MSG):
“I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Some believe that if they receive a gift, they need to give one in return. This is not something I regularly think about nor did I ever expect a gift in return from this little girl. But she has gifted me with a beautiful example of grace, understanding, patience, and thankfulness. This is not something I will forget anytime soon.

An unexpected gift. I plan on keeping it wrapped in my heart.

About Karen Grant

Children's Minister - FaithWorks! is the children's ministry of Clay Church in South Bend, Indiana.
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