For years, all she ever wanted was a Christmas tree. Never allowed as a young child to have a tree, she gently aged into adulthood. With three children and now living in a transitional housing community, the thoughts of the holiday season brought only worries to this mother who was desperately working to change her life, but mostly for the lives she had brought into the world.
Then came today…
A generous donor gifted each of the residents of Jeremiah’s Place in Dahlonega, Georgia, a tree with trimmings for the holiday. There it sat in her small one-bedroom unit. Leaning up against her gently used sofa was a simple box awkwardly filled with the green beginnings of Christmas many of us take for granted as we unpack the attic each holiday season. But for this young mom, this box represented a life change for her family.
With tears streaming down her face, almost incapable of containing her emotion, she walked into the staff office at Jeremiah’s Place. Nearly collapsing on the floor from the uncontrollable sobs and immense gratitude, she shared her story of sitting out at Christmas parties as a child because she was never able to give a gift to her friends. Christmas in her life simply had to be another day that passed with never a present to open, a Bible verse shared, or even the story of a baby the manger told.
But now, thanks to the love and light of a stranger, this holiday will be different. She and her three children, ages 12, 11 and 3, have decorated their first tree of hope. On Christmas Eve, Santa will visit and leave a gift under that long-awaited tree. The story of Baby Jesus will be shared, and for the first time in her life, a bright star will be placed at the very top of that beautiful, family tree given in love and decorated with lights that shine as brightly as her future tomorrows.
So many wonderful lessons to learn from this true story of the season. Much like the star that guided the shepherds to a lowly manger and to a family who also felt displaced that night long ago, may we never forget the impact we make or life we can change with our own light this Christmas. Sometimes it’s a simple gesture of love or an outstretched hand that can change a life. That’s what this season should teach us. As we sing “Joy to the World, the Lord has come,” may we be mindful of the simplicity of giving someone hope. For that, my friends, is the best gift we can give anyone this holiday season.
—A Resident of Jeremiah’s Place in Dahlonega, Georgia
*For more information on Jeremiah’s Place and its ministry, please visit LumpkinCountyHomeless.org.