gift giving

We don’t much celebrate Christmas in our home, at least not the birth of the baby Jesus, however, we have been known to do a bit of seasonal gift giving. Michael and I have often made presents for each other—jams, candied nuts, photo books, cards, quilts, framed photos, poems, a wooden bench—but with each passing year we focus less on gifts for each other and more on simply cooking nice meals, listening to soothing music in front of a rolling fire while drinking plenty of champagne, bourbon eggnog and red wine. The holiday is lost on Calvin, who doesn’t distinguish one day from the rest, doesn’t care about a white Christmas, has no clue about Santa and reindeer and presents, and who wants for nothing but the essentials; food, drink, warmth, hugs and kisses, a nice long bath and to cruise around the house with his mom or dad in tow.

A few years ago Michael and I started a tradition of sponsoring a family in need as part of a giving program between the college and The Salvation Army. In lieu of giving to our own extended families we give to a local family who is in need of the bare essentials. We don’t know much about the recipients beyond their names, the town they live in and the size of their kids’ clothing. This year I enjoyed shopping for a thirteen year old boy and his parents. First, I picked out a cool, steel gray puffy winter coat, some sueded brown cargo pants, a couple of flannel shirts and a fleece scarf and glove set for the boy. After I lugged the bags out to the car, feeling a bit like Kris Kringle, I headed to Game Stop for a gift card and then picked up a portable CD player. From there I happily made my way to the local theater and purchased a gift card for the entire family to enjoy a night out at the movies, including popcorn. My last stop was the grocery store to buy yet another gift card so the family could purchase all the fixings for a nice big holiday meal.

On the drive home it started to snow lightly, the sky a grayish-white. As I sat at the stop light, its red glow repeated in the tiny droplets forming on the windshield, I tried to imagine the family. The parents don't share a last name—one sounds Italian, the other French. The boy has a different surname than either of them, and I wondered why. Perhaps he was adopted at a late age, I thought. I wondered what the family will be eating for their holiday meal, if they'll have dinner guests and, if so, who. Will they enjoy cooking or simply opt for a prepared meal or take-out? Is this family perpetually hungry? Is their house cold? Do they have a Yule tree, a nativity scene or a menorah? Do they have jobs? Are they happy? Healthy?

I glanced down at the printed giving form to ensure I hadn't forgotten anything. Typed at the bottom of the sheet displaying the child’s gift ideas I noticed a space for special requests. In neat, dark pencil or pen was written please pray For my family.

So when we sit down to our special meal tonight I’ll be thinking of our sponsor family—with a smile on my face—and giving them a silent toast for much peace, warmth and happiness for this holiday and beyond.

Christmas 2006


  1. Beautiful Post as always, Christy. My husband and I adopt a family every year as well, and I feel very fortunate that we can make Christmas special for another family.

  2. What a sweet, beautiful thing you do for that family! You restore the faith we have in good people--yes, there are some out there! That you can be so thoughtful of others in the context of your longings is a testament to heroic human nature!!! Bravo, Christy and Michael