by Penelope Carlevato
Every year Christmas at my house gets crazy. I love Christmas and want a “Martha Stewart” type of holiday. And besides wanting all the décor and gourmet foods ready for the season, I try to attend all the local Christmas Concerts, boutiques, craft shows, and flea markets.
I mentioned how caught up I get before Christmas to a group of friends. They felt the same way and were also feeling the squeeze of the Christmas rush. We decided to be accountable to one another and encourage each other to try and keep Jesus the “Reason for the Season.”
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV
We had a great object lesson that year. Everyone wanted to get a “jump-start” on being prepared for the Holiday Season. One of our group was always ahead of the game. Her Christmas cards were ready to mail before Thanksgiving, and all her gifts were bought and wrapped months ahead for any occasion. We decided to follow her example; this year would be different. We would all be able to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas. We asked God to help us with our priorities.
By Thanksgiving, most of us had completed our shopping and were feeling pretty good about our accomplishments. We had planned to attend the annual “Holiday Homes Tour and Tea” as our special treat the following Saturday.
However, we received an urgent S.O.S. from our very organized friend.
She found herself with extra time on her hands and did a winter deep-cleaning. Unwanted items were sold at a garage sale. Too late she realized she may have been a little overzealous and needed our help in replacing a much-loved possession. A wooden rocking horse that had been in the family for many years had been sold! Her five-year-old daughter was devastated.
The neighbor, who purchased the horse at the garage sale, had been contacted, but not soon enough. It was being ridden and loved in its new home, several hundred miles away. They’d given to their grandson, whose mother was a single parent on a limited income. The grandparents didn’t feel they could abduct the rocking horse. They hoped she would understand.
Feeling rather foolish about selling the horse in the first place, she called our group and asked if we could please pray for a miracle. And would we mind skipping the “Holiday Home Tour and Tea” and spend the day going to garage sales and thrift stores? She needed us. We had to find a replacement rocking horse.
“So, I say to you: ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 NIV
On that chilly Saturday morning, we scoured neighborhood garage sales, looking for a fifty-year-old plus wooden rocking horse! Unfortunately, none were found. Nor could we find one on the internet or a trip to Toys-R-Us. Rocking horses were hard to find. They were no longer carved from wood but molded in plastic. We all agreed that we had done our best, even giving up that Christmas tea. We hoped that God would answer in an unexpected way.
On Christmas morning, our friend called with fabulous news. The original rocking horse sat on her front pouch with a big red ribbon and a note tied to the reins that simply said: “Merry Christmas.” God had faithfully answered our prayers.
That’s what Christmas is all about. Not about being prepared, decorated and “shopped til you dropped”, but about hearts being sensitive to the needs of others. That year, the true meaning of Christmas was found in a neighbor’s special sensitivity to a little girl’s heart.
Will we all be prepared this Christmas season with everything finished ahead of schedule? Maybe, but efficiency (or a lack of it!) must never get in the way of the true spirit of Christmas.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Penelope Carlevato was born in England and shares her passion through her writing and speaking. Her niche’ topic of hospitality and tea (Hospitali-tea) are combined with her passions for history, travel, and etiquette. She has created a large following for her four books: Tea on the Titanic, First Class Etiquette, The Art of Afternoon Tea, and Tea Lover’s Journal. She received the Evangelical Press Association’s award for her column in Leading Hearts Magazine and is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Bureau and The Titanic Speakers Bureau. She is also a Registered Nurse and writes articles for medical magazines. A love of the Edwardian era and the traditions of that period provide the motivation for her books. She and her husband, Norm, recently moved back to their home state of South Dakota. They are the grandparents of 11 and great grands of 5.
Join the conversation: Has something happened in your past that helped you remember the true meaning of Christmas?