The children were not very old that Christmas. Five and Seven, something like that. Our church was sponsoring a tree full of Christmas Stars. Each star represented a child or sibling from the elementary school in a depressed area of the county where we were Partners in Education.
Our family tradition was to snag a couple of stars that matched the ages of our own kids. It was a lot of fun, Andrew and Naomi always kicked in from their own resources, and we garnered a sense of perspective as a family that is sometimes hard to realize amongst the glitter of our Middle Class Holiday World.
Anyway, we went to SEARS first, checking off the Needs items according to age and size. Next, we headed over to TOYS R US to deal with the Wants, culled from the pre-approved list of reasonable items the church had provided the school.
So far so good. A small pile of cars, dinosaurs, colored pencils, reading books, and various balls filled our cart. We thought we were through.
“What about ‘The Wish?'” Naomi asked. Each Christmas Star was allowed to voice a Wish, just for the fun of it. These went anywhere from BMW sports car to Make my Mama well again. There was no expectation of satisfaction. This was the year that the all-new, extremely cool scooters had hit the market, a far cry from what I remember as a child. By chance, both our stars had written scooters for their wishes.
We reminded our children that these were very expensive items, patted them on the head, and moved on. Besides, both Andrew and Naomi had asked for the same thing for their big gift. There was certainly no room in the family budget for two more.
Soon, there was another tug at our sleeves. Our children had been in conference.
“Mama, Dad,” Andrew said, “We know you were thinking about getting scooters for us. We’ve decided. Naomi and I want our Christmas Star kids to have them instead.” A miracle for once in their lives, our children had actually agreed! Naomi nodded her enthusiastic assent.
It may have been a much smaller Christmas under our tree that year, but I swear that it was one of the best. Whatever else, our children were beginning to understand the meaning of Grace.