#26: On Operation Christmas Child

#26: On Operation Christmas Child

For me, the kick-off to the holiday season begins with the announcement at church that it’s time to start putting together the Operation Christmas Child boxes. This has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. There is something cool about putting together a box of gifts for a child who is a complete stranger. For a child who lives in a part of the world that I may never visit. For a child who has experienced challenges that I may never face.

As I wander through Target, picking out things I know that I would enjoy receiving: a happy colored assortment of brand new markers, fresh colored pencils, girly stickers, simple games, cute hair accessories, new wash cloth, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush – I think about and pray for the “girl – age 10 – 14”. I wonder what her life is like and hope that she too has creative tendencies that will be nurtured by my gift. On several occasions, I have realized with delight that I was shopping in the company of others in the community converging upon Target to fill their own boxes, which adds to the fun.

My church has a tradition that I love for collecting the boxes. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we all bring them to church. At a certain point in the service, the children are given the task of collecting the boxes and bringing them to steps at the front. We are a small congregation and I am always moved to tears to see the pile of boxes brought forward from the generous families. The boxes are then prayed over and later loaded into someone’s car to be taken to the drop off locations. Last year, I got to be the one to pray over the boxes and it was quite a humbling moment.

On this same Sunday before Thanksgiving, after collecting the boxes, we gather together in the fellowship hall to share a homemade Thanksgiving meal together. Collecting the boxes on this day makes the meal all that more special because we are reminded of just how much we have to be thankful for. And we are reminded of what is really important: God, dear friends, and family. This Sunday is truly my favorite of the year and it is such a poignant gateway to the rest of the holiday season.

Now I am no one special and my one box is nothing special either. It is a drop in the bucket. But my drop combined with all the other drops from churches and community groups and individuals all over the U.S. creates an abundance of blessing over the world. How special to be a tiny part of that.

And the experience each year reminds me to look for ways to be generous the rest of the year. During a season where I am bombarded with incentives to spend, spend, spend, I am forced to step back and realize I already have much more than I could possibly need and to consider ways my money might be better invested. I don’t always take the wise path, but I am working on it. Amazing how one box can put things into perspective.

I know it sounds cliché, but my prayer truly is that this holiday season we will all take time to count our blessings, to thank God for all He has given, and to share our abundance all throughout the year with those who need it more than we do.

 

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