The Spirit Of Christmas
by Cindy Woodsmall, New York Times bestselling author
We all want to bask in the spirit of Christmas joy, but sometimes the season threatens to fill us with the opposite feelings. But every now and then we come along a true story that reminds us of the joy of the season. This one blessed me, and I hope it will bless you too.
A few years back an Amish man and his wife spent their days struggling against poverty. They had four children under the age of five. While both Dad and Mom worked together, they were barely able to keep food on the table and a roof over their children’s heads.
Then the Amish man’s wife became sick. As she grew weaker, she could no longer care for the baby while her husband worked. So they found a suitable Amish family in the community who needed the love of a baby to ease their own loss. With tears of sorrow and sacrifice, they relinquished their youngest child to the care of this grateful couple.
A few months later, the man’s wife passed away.
The dad worked hard to keep his other three children fed, clothed, and housed. One year, as Thanksgiving drew close, the three older children went to their father and asked if the youngest could return home. Of course he longed to bring the now school-aged girl back into the family. But could they afford to take care of her? His three older children came up with sacrifices each of them could make in order to help provide for the missing member of their family. As they talked, a few new ideas of how to stretch the budget even more came to him too.
After talking it over with the girl’s adoptive parents, she did return home. Both families rejoiced over the little girl returning to her family. They continued to fight against poverty, but in the midst of it they bonded with one another and found joy in the little things life offered.
A week before Christmas the dad received a hundred dollars in the mail. Although none of the family knew who it came from, they each had wonderful dreams of how the money could be spent. Surely visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
But then the oldest mentioned a man down the road who was poorer than they were. Not only did he lack money, he had no family. They all heartily agreed to take every penny of that hundred dollars to the man down the street. When they passed the old man the gift, his body shook and tears streamed down his face.
He invited them into his home, and shared that this winter had been the worst of them all. Unknown to his neighbors, he’d been injured and couldn’t work. He had no kerosene for his lamps, no wood for his stove, and no food in his pantry. He’d been sitting alone in his cold, dark cabin, feeling hopeless. Through their generosity he’d be able to fill his lamps, warm his home, and keep food on his table until he could return to work.
As they rode home in their horse-drawn buggy, they held hands and sang, basking in the spirit of Christmas joy.
For truly the spirit of the season is found in sacrifice, respect, and love. And those things dwell inside all of us when we choose to welcome them.