A Christmas Story
Wednesday - December 24, 2008
This is a bit of a departure from the usual written snapshots of my crazy life. This is another snapshot, but one that might be more fitting given the season and the hard times many people are going through with their families right now.
The story takes place nearly 15 years ago when our son was attending a small parochial preschool near where we lived. Our church then was right across the street from the school, so it was quite convenient for us. It was Christmas Eve and I was stressed out because of work and the usual hectic events leading up to Dec. 25. The Christmas cards were not done, our shopping incomplete and gift deliveries were way behind schedule. I was starting to panic big time when my wife received a phone call.
It was a nun from our son’s school, the principal actually, and she called to ask us a favor. We were a big part of the school and church family and known to always help out whenever someone wearing a habit asked.
She wanted to know if we would go out and buy some presents for a family who belonged to the parish. It was no small list, as we would have to shop and get specific requested items for five kids ranging in age from 6 to 16. Normally, this would not be a problem. But this meant going shopping on Christmas Eve a couple hours before the stores closed and place all our obligations on hold until we completed this mission. This pushed me over the stress limit and my head nearly exploded. Still, we went out and I stubbornly completed the task with my wife.
As she wrapped the presents to drop off at the convent, I was ranting about how my Christmas was now turned upside down. When I calmed down we loaded the car, and my wife, son and I went to deliver those presents.
The sister opened the door and was dressed in her white habit. Her face was flushed and she explained why she couldn’t go out to do the shopping herself. She was undergoing cancer treatments and had caught the flu, with a fever. Then she explained the reason for her request. It was for a young family of five kids whose mother had recently passed away.
Their father called the church and asked for some food for the children so that they could have a small Christmas celebration. I suddenly felt ashamed for being so selfish. In that moment of clarity, the meaning of Christmas was given to me.
I have never forgotten that gift. This Christmas Eve you’ll find me serving dinner at the IHS women and children’s shelter. I’m joining all of you who give of your time to help those less fortunate. In the Christmas story of life, doing that always has a happy ending.
Ron’s Book of the week
Book sales are still going strong. In fact, some of the stores are nearly sold out. You can still get copies at Barnes & Noble Ala Moana, Borders Waikele and Borders at Ward Centre. That’s good news for the kids of the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation, to whom I am donating part of my proceeds. My book is also available online at Amazon.com.
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