I don’t really have a hard-and-fast rule about when we’re “allowed” to start listening to Christmas music around here, but I realized last night that for me, the Christmas season really starts on the night we pack up our boxes for Operation Christmas Child. As we fill boxes with a crazy assortment of items — from necessities like toothbrushes and socks to fun things like toys and candy — it’s a passage of sorts into the real meaning of the season. This is a special time for giving, and special time for remembering and sharing God’s love.
This year feels all messed up. Between being sick and being really bad at figuring out how to run errands these days, I landed us a little behind the eight ball… a little, um, past deadline for our boxes. Not the final, final deadline. But the official, announced deadline that we really should have met. So there we were last night, packing boxes at the last minute. Cam wasn’t with us due to other obligations, but L., Chad, and I cleaned up after dinner and got to work.
I turned on the Christmas music and that’s when I realized…this is my personal start to the Christmas season. I don’t even remember when we started this tradition — the stash of shoe boxes set aside during the year, shopping trips to gather all the goodies, and then an evening packing the boxes — but it’s a tradition that has grown dear to me. And the best part is that it’s more than a tradition, more than a habit that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
It’s a way to share with others — kids halfway across the globe who otherwise might receive nothing for Christmas. It’s a way to show our gratitude for the many blessings we have. It’s a way to share the Love that is at the very core of what Christmas is all about.
I always smile when I survey our shoeboxes at the end of the evening. Chad puts his years of UPS-package-car-packing employment experience to good use and we fit in everything we possibly can. This year we included deflated soccer balls (along with mini pumps) that we’re hoping are a big hit. There are marbles, Legos, shirts, socks, soap, flashlights, gummy Lifesavers, and more. We’re praying that these boxes are a blessing to four little boys, somewhere in the world.
And I’m ready to start the Christmas season. It’s time.