Sunday night before the annual Woodward Park holiday dinner, I had the privilege of sharing a brief devotional thought. I centered my thoughts around the impact our Downtown Outreach to the homeless of Fresno has made upon me for this year.
I know it is more blessed to give than receive, but I'm not too ashamed to be brutally honest -- for the first 35 Christmas's of my life, the real joy on December 25th was in upwrapping my gifts. Yes, Christmas took on a different meaning when I became a dad. The joy of seeing my girls faces light up is priceless. But deep within all of us, there is that desire to receive. It is the consumer in all of us.
Yet, 18 days before the big day this year, I find myself wanting...nothing.
A couple of weeks ago, Mandy asked me, "What do you want this year for Christmas?" And for the first time in my life, my reply was, "Nothing."
I have everything I need. I have a beautiful wife and two healthy girls. I have a home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I have an ample supply of food and dependable transportation. I have a great job that affords me many blessings, not the least of which is the opportunity to make memories with my girls.
And in downtown Fresno, the first Saturday of every month, I am reminded in a visible, tangible way that there are people right here in the city in which I live who crave the basic necessities of life.
Last Sunday, I shared with the church how one lady who lives in a shed provided by the city told us last Saturday during our coat give-away that what she needed most was blankets. Since the onset of the cooler weather, she has been unable to sleep at night due to the fact the sheds have no heat. Her only protection against the cold was the coat she slept in.
Upon hearing that, one of our members promptly left the church building and went out and bought 30 blankets. Those blankets were supplemented with the blankets made by several ladies of Woodward Park each Wednesday afternoon and were delivered downtown to the residents of the sheds of Tuesday morning.
Add it all up and the result is a radical redefining of the desires of my life. I have what I need and as a result, the wants of my life seem to be subsiding.
If "I'm getting nothing for Christmas" as the child's carol says, other than the love of my family and the realization of how blessed I already am, then it could go down as the most blessed Christmas ever.