I posted this blog in 2011. But the story is worthy of sharing again. The past couple of weeks have been hectic for me, and I'm sure many of you have felt the same way. Stories like this remind us of how we should be observing the season.
I was rummaging through a drawer last week looking for something and I found this little stocking at the bottom of the drawer. It's a reminder of what wonderful children I have.
Many Christmases ago, just as we were leaving for the Christmas Eve service at church, Jessica asked us to wait just a minute. She wasn't quite finished. I knew she was making something but we were busy and I didn't exactly know what she was doing. In a couple of minutes she was ready and had this little stocking in her hand. You can see that the tag says "To Needing."
When we went up for communion that night, she placed this little stocking on the altar rail. I didn't know what was in it but thought that it was nice that she wanted to leave something. The adults often left a dollar or two there. That money was used for people who came to the church needing help with things like paying the heating bill, or getting their car repaired. The money was always collected after the service and given to the pastor. That little stocking was gathered up along with the dollar bills and that's the last we saw of it.
Weeks later I got a phone call from the pastor telling me that the that little stocking been laying on his office desk since Christmas. The top was stapled together (with lots of staples.) It was stuffed full and it had the tag written in a small child's writing. One day his wife was in the office and picked the stocking up. She asked what it was. He told her that Jessica had left it on the altar Christmas Eve, that it was probably filled with candy and she could throw it away. She weighed it in her hand and said she thought it was awfully heavy for candy. She undid the staples and poured out lots of coins and some rolled up bills. The pastor was astounded. They counted the money and said it held just over $17.
Jessica had emptied her bank and given it all to the "needing." He was moved by her generosity. He said he had learned a lesson, too. He had learned not to judge what was on the inside by how the outside looked. When you make up your mind before looking further, it's easy to miss something special. The other bills left on the altar that night were all ones and fives. This little second grader had given more than anyone. She gave all she had. And he had almost thrown the stocking away.
This little stocking is one of my Christmas treasures.
So, slow down this week. Do one of these things: Look at the stars in the dark night sky. Turn off the TV for a few minutes and sit in front of the Christmas tree. Take a walk in the woods, or through your neighborhood. Declare your kitchen closed one night this week and have sandwiches for supper. Use the extra time to read a story to your children or enjoy a book yourself. Just remember to slow down. Remember to breathe.