Friday, November 9, 2012

A Best Way to Begin the Christmas Season

My children already have Christmas smiles, the kind that melt your heart, that light up not only the whole face but the entire room as well.  Any mother will tell you such smiles are as beautiful as any museum-quality gem and as contagious as laughter, inviting the world to linger and share in their joy.

The beauty of this smile is that it is fueled by a Christmas joy, one that has nothing to do with talk of Santa Claus, sugary treats, decorations, or visions of gifts they would like to personally receive. 

Instead, the joy of Christmas has been glimpsed in three red and green paper shoe boxes lined up on our dining room table, three boxes that contain nothing for us.

While we have participated in Samaritan's Purse and their Operation Christmas Child ministry in the past, this is the first year all three of our children are old enough to really get involved in picking the items for their own boxes.  

Even the dreaded weekly shopping trip turned into a celebration as we marched our very conspicuous empty boxes into Wal-mart.  The children literally bounced up and down the aisles, searching, choosing, seeking to figure out how much could fit inside.

No, a Barbie's legs were too long.  So was Tinkerbell.  The pink sparkly pom poms did fit, but took up too much space that could be used for the bouncy ball, glittered hair clips, and necklace/bracelet set.  
The tie-dyed socks squeezed around the lenticular puzzle, a yo-yo, and a couple matchbox cars.  Then there was the play-dough, Angry Birds stickers, lollipops, toothbrushes, and t-shirts.

At one point, my excited Emerson ran straight up to a stock-lady, his words tumbling over themselves as they told about him buying gifts for a boy and Amelia buying gifts for a girl, both who would get no Christmas presents to remind them that Jesus loved them.
It warmed my heart to see his uncontainable joy at being able to spread the true meaning of Christmas, of Christ giving of Himself for us, of us giving of ourselves to others around the world.

The wonderful news is that this ministry opportunity is open for everyone.  It's not too late for you to pack a shoe box, too, and impact the life of a child this Christmas season.  Operation Christmas Child National Collection week is next week, November 12 – 19, 2012.  To find a drop-off location near you, visit this link.

And the absolute coolest thing?  While you can just use the usual labels on your box, this year, Operation Christmas Child has made it possible to track each shoe box's journey through "Follow Your Box."  By making a $7 donation online to cover shipping and handling costs, we were able to print out special labels with a bar code.  As the box travels, Samaritan's Purse will scan that bar code and send us an email, telling us its destination.  

The children and I are all excited to learn where God will cause those boxes to end up! 

Even as I write this, I know from past experience that as the season gets into full swing, my focus will waver at times from Christ's birth.  

But before the pink aluminum tree comes down from the attic, before the annual family photos are stuffed into cards and envelopes, before the Christmas songs shuffle in the CD changer--this, this seems the perfect way to begin to the season.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link. We have never tracked ours before so that will be great.