Norman Vincent Peale, noted minister and author from the previous century, tells the story of a young girl from Sweden spending Christmas in big, bustling New York City. She was living with an American family and helping them around the house, and she didn’t have much money. So she knew she couldn’t get them a very nice Christmas presentâ€”besides, they already had so much, with new gifts arriving every day.Â
With just a little money in her pocket, she went out and bought an outfit for a small baby, and then she set out on a journey to find the poorest part of town and the poorest baby she could find. At first, she received only strange looks from passersby when she asked them for help. But then a kind stranger, a Salvation Army bell-ringer, guided her to a poor part of town and helped her deliver her gift. On Christmas morning, instead of giving them a wrapped present, she told the family she served what she had done in their name. Everyone was speechless, and everyone was blessedâ€”the girl for giving, the wealthy family for seeing others with new eyes, and the poor family for receiving an unexpected gift.
All of us have opportunities both large and small to show kindness, especially at Christmastime. We can help strangers by delivering gifts to needy kids or serving homeless families at a soup kitchen. Or we can simply look for everyday ways to be kind, like allowing someone to go ahead of us in a lengthy line at the department store, or giving that bell-ringer a little change and a few encouraging words.
Maybe it’s because we’re in gift-giving mode anyway that giving to others becomes so important at Christmas. Or because we’re more aware of our families and friends and communities. Or maybe it’s because two thousand years ago, the earth received the most perfect, most loving gift of all, helping us to understand true kindness.
Whatever the reason, don’t let Christmas pass you by without showing kindness to someone. Because it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.