In my young life, Christmas was all about receiving presents. Each year, after scouring the Sears catalog, I would write out my list of desired gifts: books, games and dolls, and then look forward to Christmas morning with anxious anticipation.
It was the Christmas prior to my 12th birthday when it all changed for me. A few weeks before Christmas, my parents approached my sister and me to tell us about a family that would not be celebrating Christmas. The parents had no means to provide food or gifts for their children who were about our same age. My parents asked us if we would each be willing to go to our rooms and select something nice and in good repair from among our toys to give away.
As I walked to my room, I couldn’t even imagine not receiving any gifts. I began to feel the emptiness of a Christmas morning with no packages to unwrap and a terrible sadness for the girl without Christmas encompassed me. I determined to find the very best gift for her. I stood in the center of my room and looked at my belongings. I had so many wonderful books, my hard-earned collection of model horses and some favorite board games. Then I spotted my most prized possession, a beautiful Pollyanna doll. She was too perfect to ever play with, but she had become my faithful companion, always by my side as I sat in the windowsill to read. I loved her dearly.
In that moment, I knew the right thing to do. I knew that I should give away my precious doll. Almost immediately, as the thought entered my mind, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy. I picked up my doll and made sure she looked perfect in every way. I took her downstairs and, with tears in my eyes, I offered my doll to my mother, saying that I thought Pollyanna would make the young girl very happy.
In a very small way, I began to understand the sweet joy of giving the very best I had to give while learning to love and to serve others. Christmas was different for me that year. My heart was changed, and with humble gratitude I began to realize God’s love for each one of us in the gift of His only begotten Son, the Savior of the world.