Can you fathom the sacrifice? Give up your only child for others? The whole meaning of Christmas is a pretty amazing, mind-bending message of the ultimate gift of giving. I cannot for a moment imagine the pain and loss of sacrificing my own child for the sake and salvation of others, yet am daily thankful I serve a God who did. At Christmas, I need to find ways to not only show my gratitude for this wonderful Gift of Sacrifice, but make sure I teach the meaning of it to my own child.
All around us this season are those daily living sacrifice. Military families who will spend their holidays apart – without the assurance of knowing if they will be reunited – so that a family member can sacrifice his/her duty for the freedom and safety of others. Public safety and healthcare workers who work diligently to keep the critical infrastructure and emergency services our world rely upon working around the clock. These sacrifices are seemingly insignificant to many…often not thought of twice by those who generously serve…but desperately needed by those who rely upon and consume them.
At home, I try to teach the importance of The Gift of Sacrifice by the simple giving of prized gifts to others. What better way to teach selflessness than to exhibit it:
Three years ago, my daughter and I wrapped up four gifts on Christmas Eve day. They were all gifts she had asked Santa to bring her for Christmas. At the age of six, it was hard for her to contain her excitement about seeing the objects of her desire in hand…and even harder to wrap them up and learn we were giving them away! Tears flowed as I explained that we were taking them to the local hospital to deliver them to the Pediatric unit. She couldn’t believe the gifts she had asked for were being given away!
We donned our Santa hats, drove the short distance to the little community hospital and went to the pediatric nurses station. We explained the reason for our visit. Due to HIPPA, of course, we couldn’t personally deliver our gifts. But the nurse at the station told my daughter that there were only four children that night in the unit and no one else had thought to bring them gifts. She asked us to wait while she went to deliver the presents and the squeals of excitement we heard were priceless! No gift I could give my daughter could match the joy that moment gave!
I don’t understand how a parent can sacrifice a child. But I do understand the joy that comes from selfless giving. I’ve seen it on my child’s face. She practices it often in how she treats her friends, in her play and in the love she shows to use.
Find ways this Christmastime to teach and give The Gift of Sacrifice. Maybe it is as simple as a box of donuts (and a big “Thank You!”) dropped off at the local fire station on Christmas Eve, or sending some of the money you haven’t spent on Christmas gifts to victims of Superstorm Sandy relief. Volunteer at a local USO making sandwiches for soldiers and their families traveling during the holidays. You can give big, or give small. But give from the heart. Give freely and live The Gift of Sacrifice.