On Saturday morning, December 22, 2012, our ten-year-old daughter opened the front door to our home and found quite a surprise. With big eyes, high voice, and harnessed excitement she turned to her mother and siblings and said, “Come look! There’s a bag of gifts on the front porch.” Her three younger siblings rushed the front door. Desiree cautiously followed. Desiree carefully examined the package and its contents. She noticed there was no signature or greeting card, this was done anonymously.
At the time, I, along with 100 other eager folks, was at our specialty meat market selecting our Christmas ham. My cell phone rang. I saw the call coming from Desiree and I was sure she was calling to ask me to pick up something extra. When I answered she began telling me what our oldest daughter discovered on the front porch. Soon, as she was describing the package, she began weeping. I could hear it in her voice. She was weeping tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of humility. It didn’t take long for the same emotions to start flowing through my veins.
As I was driving home, my mind raced thinking of so many people in our lives with hearts of gold, but who might think our family deserving of such kindness? From what Desiree had told me on the phone, in the bag were five presents, one for each child and one for Desiree and I. On the outside of the bag was a large note that read “I Spent It On Christmas” with no indication of the giver.We hosted a holiday gathering the night before at our home with nearly 70 guests-adults and children. I kept picturing all of our guests, all of them generous people.
After I arrived home, we decided to have the children open the gifts specifically labeled for each of them, and Desiree and I opened ours. As the gifts were revealed, and the phrase I Spent It On Christmas continued running through my brain, instantly I was convinced I knew who dropped this Christmas package on our front porch. Among the many thoughts and feelings rushing through me, one stood out, I repeated out loud several times to my family, “This is an example of the true spirit of Christmas.”
The Back Story:
About six weeks ago Desiree and I had planned a Friday night out for dinner and Christmas shopping with our nine- and ten-year-old, our two oldest children. We had to be sure to choose a Friday night when Desiree wasn’t working at the hospital, and we had to be sure this night was open for our babysitter who would stay home with our three-year-old twins. All elements fell into place perfectly.
The long awaited Friday arrived. Desiree had worked all day at the hospital and, knowing we had a special evening ahead, she worked with a smile on her face and a skip in her step all day.
She picked up our two oldest children from school, as I rushed home from school with our babysitter. In the span of a few moments our plan completely unraveled. It was soon determined that the stars were not aligning for our eagerly anticipated evening out. All parents can appreciate the unforeseen variables that arise at the brink of fulfilling the best-laid-plans.
We had been home from school and work for all of 20 minutes. As it became increasingly more obvious that our plans were deteriorating, there was some awkwardness when Desiree confessed to our babysitter that we had to take her home. The awkwardness came from Desiree and I, not our babysitter. Desiree took our babysitter home as they spent the fifteen minute drive making small talk.
Of course it’s completely appropriate to pay our babysitter for the entire night we asked her to clear her schedule. She was highly reluctant and strongly resisted taking the money. Who wouldn’t feel guilty for taking seemingly unearned money? Desiree strongly encouraged her to take it, at the very least for her inconvenience. After a few friendly exchanges our babysitter finally accepted the money.