December 13, 2018

Christmas: Heaven is Here

I remember a Christmas—I had to have been about eleven—when my single mother took me a side one day and said, “Ash”—she probably really called me by my nickname SMASH—“I have to ask you a favor.” She then proceeded to tell me that this year her Christmas budget was close to nothing. She said, “I need your help, the only thing I was able to purchase for you was a nail polish, and this year I need you to be ok with that.”

I was long past the years of asking Santa for presents, but I had never imagined a Christmas when there was going to be close to nothing under our tree. Being the brave young woman I was, I looked my mother in the eye and said, “Do not buy me another thing, if you have any money left get something for the little girls.” My little sisters were 5 and 7 years younger than me, and I was pretty sure they still had faith in the little jolly man with the red suit.

Christmas morning came, and just as she had promised all I opened was my nail polish. I sat quietly as the others opened their meager gifts.

It was hard to breathe as I chocked back tears. I wasn’t sad about the presents, but it killed me to watch my mother go around trying to smile—I could see it all over her face . . . she felt like she had failed us.

Soon there was a knock. We all scampered to the door of our little duplex and as it swung open we were surprised to see what looked like a little miniature tree standing boldly on our porch. Instead of leaves, this little tree proudly sported little wrapped up dollar bills—tiny ribbons held them tightly to each branch.

Tears filled my eyes as we picked up the little magic plant and carried it into our tiny kitchen. I looked up to see my mother’s face—it was wet from tears—as she watched us count what felt like a million dollars. We felt rich that Christmas—rich in blessings, rich in dollars, and rich in love. Someone loved us enough to know that year . . . we just needed a tiny sprout of hope, not in a little jolly man in a red suit . . . but in Christ. They were His hands that day. Angels that dropped off a tiny reminder in that tiny duplex: we were not forgotten.

Fast forward about five or six years. It is Christmas time again. My mother has remarried a very generous kind man who announced, “Kids”—there were twelve of us between the two of them, probably six of us living at home—“This year we want to do Christmas a little differently, we want to give our presents to a family who needs it. We will give you a budget and assign you partners to shop for each of their children and we will drop everything off at their house on Christmas Eve. Our goal is to make sure they have no idea where it came from. It will be really fun . . . the only catch is: we won’t be buying anything for any of you.”

My mind quickly took me back to the nail polish and the money tree, and the look in my mother’s eye. I shouted with excitement, “Yes!”

I took it to another level—as I often tend to do—and knocked on their door with a fake “research questionnaire for school”. I had to meet the people we were going to be shopping for. These total strangers let me in their house. I surveyed the room. They had no TV, and I didn’t see any sign of a scrap of food.  They had four little kids. They talked very kindly to their children as they filled out my fake questionnaire. As I drove home that night tears fell down my cheeks as I thought about all the fun things I was going to purchase for their family.

Christmas Eve came. The boxes were all lined in our front room, decorated beautifully. We loaded them into our cars. We drove in silence and when we approached their tiny apartment my step dad turned and said, “Ashlee, you are the fastest kid I know. Once we get all the presents loaded on the porch, why don’t you be the one to ring the doorbell and run around the corner.”

The porch was loaded and everyone had piled into the cars. I rang the doorbell and ran as fast as my legs could carry me.  I slammed myself into the car and we sped away. I noticed over the fence from their apartment was a Kmart. I suggested we go over to the parking lot and look over the huge cinderblock fence to see if we could see the family. (Like I said, always trying to take it to the next level.)

My stepbrother hoisted me up so I could barely peek my eyes over the wall. And there on the porch were all the presents . . . along with a mother, weeping so hard she couldn’t even bend over to pick up one box. I could hear her sobs, I could feel of the gratitude she felt, but I also could remember a moment when my own mother had cried those same tears—and I felt joy.

This time we got to be His hands—someone else had the opportunity to remember His love . . . and we got to be apart of it.

I will never forget either of these Christmas’ and the lessons I learned feeling the earthly angels . . . and how powerful it feels to be one.

Heaven is close, there are angels all around us—some we can see, and others we can only feel. This Christmas let us always remember the miracles—we even have the power to create some.  Three wise men followed a star to bring their love to a little baby far away. Most of the time we don’t have to look or travel too far to find someone who needs to be reminded that they are loved—a little glimmer of light can help us remember we are not forgotten.


Lisa said...

This is beautiful. I love this so much. Thank you for sharing it.

SHBILL said...

This is beautiful and touching and filled me with the true spirit of Christmas!!!
Thank you....��❤��

rootstoholdme said...

Wow! 😢 What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it. I too have been the recipient of Angels. I hope God will provide me with many chances to be one for someone else.

Unknown said...

thank you for sharing this amazing story it was no accident i found your page tonight the lord has gotten me through so many struggles and last night i found out a close friend of mine is going through something so similar and has no money to give her son christmAS this year it brokee my heart to hear her tell me she had to tell her son they would have to do christmas next month bc all her money has gone to keeping them afloat and barely getting by, in my heart i knew the lord was leading me to help them in anyway i could and thats how i found this page. i hoping to find an angel that might be able to help me get them what the y need and so her sweet son hes 8 years old can have even a small christmas.

Ann Blake-Tracy said...

This is truely a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing. I can hardly wait to share it with my children & grandchildren who Have been waiting for years for all the gifts I could not afford go give them because every penny I had was going to save the lives of others. I wanted them to understand lives are more important than things. Things can always be replaced where lives cannot.

BUT they have lots of "I owe you"s they can hopefully collect on soon. But I would hope my sacrifices over the years will help them to see the value in doing the same in their own lives. Somehow I think your story will help greatly to open that vision for them. So thank you very, very much!

Mary C. Parker said...

This is a beautiful story with such love for those who don’t have much for Christmas! What a precious way to show love to other children and parents who need some help from others!! 💕🎄💕

Susan Savage said...

Ashley, this is so beautiful. Your mother has taught you some valuable lessons thru life. She is a remarkable you are!!!

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