Mrs. Cole held her hand over the telephone. “Quiet, please,” she mouthed to her children, before she continued talking to her friend on the phone.
“No, Jana, do not worry about it. I am so sorry that you have to go through this. We will be happy to have the children here for as long as you need to be away. Please pass our sympathy on to your husband. You will be in our prayers.”
Sally and Todd looked at their mom with horror as she hung up the phone. They knew enough not to interrupt her, but the moment she turned around, they ran up to her, both shouting at the same time, “Mom, you can’t mean it! Damian and Kayla are going to be here for longer? Are they going to be with us for Christmas? Mom, how could you?!!”
Mom put up her hand and motioned for her two children to sit down and be still. She looked at them sternly and then explained: “Their parents had planned to come back from their business trip tomorrow, but Kayla’s father has had an accident, and they are unable to travel. In fact, he is seriously ill, and Mrs. Ray does not feel she can leave him alone. Therefore, Damian and Kayla will be staying with us over the Christmas holidays, and perhaps longer.”
“But Mom! They have a different religion! They don’t celebrate Christmas! This is going to ruin everything! How are we going to exchange gifts in front of them and have our normal Christmas carol singing and our turkey dinner and everything? It’s going to be awkward and it’s going to be the worst Christmas ever!” Just thinking about it made Sally cry.
Todd agreed. “Can we even get presents? Kayla told me they don’t do anything for Christmas because they don’t believe in it. They aren’t allowed to get presents! I don’t want other people here. I just want our family! That’s what Christmas is all about.”
Mom was quiet. Her children knew she was praying, as she often did when she did not have an immediate answer to their questions. When she looked up, her eyes were shining. “If Mary and Joseph were standing at our door right now, asking if we had room for them, would you tell them this was not a convenient time, and they should come back after Christmas?”
“Of course not! We’d be shutting Jesus out!” Todd was quick with the answer, but as soon as he said it, he knew what his mother meant. “Oh, you mean we would be shutting Jesus out if we didn’t welcome Kayla and Damian too – don’t you?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean,” replied Mother. “Children, Jesus left His home in heaven to bring us God’s love. Don’t you think we can open our home to someone in need? God has given us an opportunity to share Christmas with people who do not know Him.” “But what if they aren’t allowed to exchange presents? Does that mean we don’t get any either?”
“Exchanging gifts is our culture. It is a tradition we have that we can easily put aside for one Christmas if it will offend our guests. We’ll talk about that later. However, the birth of Jesus is not our culture, it is the Truth. Jesus’ love reached down to us, and it is our purpose to reflect and distribute His love to others. That is what we are doing when we extend kindness to friends. Jesus’ love is for the whole world, and He wants everyone to know why He came to earth as a baby. If Kayla and Damian were not guests in our home, they may not have been willing to hear about Jesus from us, but if they see us living out Christmas, perhaps they will.”
“You’re right, Mom,” said Sally quietly. “Christmas is not really about presents, or any of our traditions. I think Jesus will be happy if we open our doors to someone who doesn’t know about Him and share His love. Maybe when they hear the story of why God sent His Son, they will believe that He loves them too.”
Hamilton , Ontario