Each year in the months leading up to Christmas, our family loads up the garage with outgrown clothing, neglected toys and unwanted furniture in preparation for our annual World Vision Yard Sale. Dan and I have sponsored children through World Vision for the last decade and decided that one way to teach the kids to ‘give back’ during Christmas season would be for them to donate the proceeds of their toy sales to kids who need more than just the latest Legos and American Girl dolls of the year.
On the evening before the yard sale, our children sit down and go through the World Vision gift catalog and decide what they want to spend their money on. (This year DJ, my 10-year-old son, decided on chickens for a family to raise and breed, as well as seeds for a bigger harvest. I think he might have been hungry…ten-year-old boys are perpetually hungry.)
On the morning of the sale we are up with those anticipated chickens, hanging up clothes, displaying endless numbers of stuffed animals, and showcasing boxes of K’nex beside last year’s soccer cleats. Then we pray for the people who will come to our sale as well as the families who will eventually receive our gifts. We place the World Vision catalog open on the table, and each time the children make a sale they explain to their customers that their money will be going to help children and families in need this Christmas season. Everyone feels like a winner. And with each quarter, dime and nickel we drop in the money jar, my children’s smiles grow larger.
This year, however, on the eve of the sale, my twelve-year-old daughter Rachel spent longer than usual looking through the catalog. I finally had to stop her to tell her to go brush her teeth and get into bed. She came into the bathroom with a somber look on her face and the traces of tears in her eyes, “Mom, I can’t go to bed knowing what kids out there are going through.” She ran into her bedroom, grabbed her jar of spending money and emptied the contents on the table. Before long every penny that she possessed was stacked into two little piles. One pile of $18 to buy mosquito nets for a family, and another stack of $25 for a donation to a clean water fund to help save children from parasites and to allow them to go to school instead of spending the day walking miles to get fresh water. Each pile had a tiny pink post-it note on top that read, “Merry Christmas, Love Rachel.” Her jar was completely empty, but her heart was full of mercy and her sadness spilled out in saline drops as she murmured into my chest, “I wish I had more Mommy, I wish I had more.”
When she finally wandered bleary-eyed into the bedroom, I tucked her in with a prayer and a promise that God was holding the world in his hands and her money would make a difference not only to the children she blessed, but also to her own life. I already felt the difference in mine.
Oh, that I could be that generous, that I could feel that deeply, that I could sacrifice that completely. That’s what I want more of this Christmas.