It all began a year ago on Thanksgiving Day. The fragrance of turkey lingered as the Sherman family polished off the last of the pumpkin and apple pies; it was time to begin their long tradition of drawing one another’s names for Christmas giving. Ann brought out the bowl with the names of her four adult children and their spouses as well as herself and her husband Dan.
As she thoroughly stirred the names in the bowl, Dan cleared his throat. “I have an idea that I would like to present to you,” he announced. “Every year, we are given someone else in the family to buy gifts for. We spend time thinking about how we might make them happy on Christmas Day. We also spend quite a lot of money. But what really makes us happy is the giving and the receiving of our caring for one another.” He went on to say, “I propose that this Christmas we give one another the gift of our presence rather than buying presents. Instead of spending money on one another, why not spend ourselves and give the money we might have spent to a family that really needs it?”
Meanwhile, in another part of town, a family with four children were also gathered around their table. The youngest boy was wondering what Santa would bring him this year; he had quite a long list. The eldest girl informed him that Santa may not find them this year. Their dad had been hurt in a car accident and, after two long months, had just gone back to work. Each evening for the past week, Ashley had been helping her mother pack things up because they were going to have to move into a smaller house. She knew what was coming!
“Let’s not worry about that right now,” said their mom. “You make your list and we will help Santa find us. But he might not be able to bring us very much because our new house will be very small,” she added, hoping to prepare them for some disappointment on Christmas Day.
Early in December, Ann and Dan visited St. Francis House. Each member of their family had contributed $75; they happily presented a whopping $750! As a staff member gratefully received their gift, she told them about the other family. Their gift would be used to buy gifts from the children’s lists for Santa. It would be combined with gifts from other donors to help relieve the dad’s stress over the delinquent rent and electric bill. “Your gift will give this family a chance to get through their present crisis and to become stable again. You have no idea how much your gift will mean to them! You have given them a Christmas gift of hope!”