Guest Post by Jennifer “Birdie” Shawker, UCSA Communications Coordinator
On a Christmas Eve many years ago, I sat in an emergency room, a croupy baby Ryan on my lap. My mother several floors above me, in the ICU, a ventilator helping her breathe. I’d flown in from 1500 miles away a few days before, packing almost nothing. I was told my mother was very sick. I needed to come quickly if I wanted to be with her before she died, so that was exactly what I did. The clothes I was wearing were given to me by a friend in the area. I had nothing with me to give my child for Christmas.
Now my baby was sick. The gifts for his first Christmas were miles away under a tree neither of us would see on Christmas day. He would never know the difference, he was so small, but I would. Never did I ever think that in my lifetime I would know a Christmas for him without gifts. I was exhausted, and utterly heartbroken.
As I tried to soothe my fussy and miserable babe, a policeman came up to me with something in his hands. “Would you like a teddy bear to give your baby for Christmas?”
I cannot describe the gratitude I felt. Words fall short. “Oh, yes, please. Thank you, thank you!” This small gesture gave me power and strength to face the days ahead. They were not easy days by any means. But I had a little bit of Christmas to share with my son, and it made a tremendous difference.
This is why I will spend my Christmas Eve in the hospital, serving as a chaplain. This is why I’m so delighted our church was able to provide young parents in the THRU Project with bears to give their children for Christmas.
On the road ahead, if you haven’t had a chance yet to be generous this season, please consider it. Even the smallest act of kindness can help someone tap into their capacities for greatness….. in ways the giver may never know of.
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