It was mid-October when I first spotted them. They were nestled in next to the candy and Halloween costumes as I walked through the store. They were the first Christmas decorations of the year. It was the beginning of the 10 week period when the stores do all they can to get us to buy all we can. It was the great Christmas shopping rush and the bigger the gifts the better. I shook my head sadly and walked on, but then a wonderful memory came back into my mind.
It was late-December from several years earlier. I was shopping alone trying to pick up some thick Winter socks to warm my frozen feet. As I rounded the corner in the store I saw a Christmas tree full of paper angels. On each angel was the name of a needy child whose family couldn’t afford to buy them a gift that year. Shoppers who picked an angel could buy a simple toy or gift and the store would wrap it and send it to the child that Christmas. Around the tree I saw a teenage boy and girl picking out several angels apiece. Their mother was smiling while she watched them. I walked up next to her and started talking with her. She told me that her children started this several years ago when she first explained to them what the Charity Angel tree was for. Each offered to give up one of their toys that year so that a needy child could have one. It didn’t stop then, though. Each year since the kids had saved money they earned throughout the year and bought more and more children the gifts they wouldn’t have otherwise.
It had become a family tradition. I smiled when she finished, walked over to the tree, and picked out a few angels too. I left the store feeling in touch with God, Christmas, and life once again. May we always remember that life is about the love you share not the money you have. Life is about the people you help not the things you own. And may we also see that it is never too late to start a family tradition that makes the Father of us all smile.
By: Joseph J. Mazzella