His little-boy arms could scarcely wrap around the box. He drew it tighter and tighter to his chest. I knew he didn't want to let go. We stood in the back of the sanctuary before everyone else arrived. The boxes had mounted over recent weeks in a towering pyramid against the back wall. It was his first year to pack a Christmas box.
We didn't know the distance it would travel, or even the means.... where it would finally stop... what our tiny recipient would look like. But we knew he was our precious "Christmas Buddy", and that he needed my little man that Christmas. Would it be his first Christmas gift? May it not be his last.
"Give it one more hug for your Christmas Buddy." He squeezed that little box as if it was hello and goodbye in one embrace. In a way it was. He hesitated, lingering, and with the gentlest kiss he laid his gift atop the stack with eyes brimming full.
Soon service began. As I helped line the children up outside the door, the soft, simple piano melody danced into my heart. "Go tell it on the mountain.... over the hills... and everywhere." Everywhere.
Each child picked up a box and brought it forward to the altar. My little man beamed with each trip he took down the aisle. Finally the boxes were all placed. The children sat one by one. Yet one solitary blonde head remained.
My tender one stood before the altar... gazing at the sea of boxes. So many Christmas buddies. So many little hands. So many aching child hearts. He was motionless. As I started down the aisle, his knees slowly bent. His head bowed low. Our pastor's wife stopped in her approach to him and motioned for her husband to see. He already had. His face was flushed. His eyes washed with tears. And my little one, alone with all of these expressions of love, ever so gently sealed one last box with a kiss as though he was covering each one in love... the love of one child to another.
Six years later, he remembers a Christmas buddy every season. With great care he chooses each item, and packs his box full. This year his little brother more fully understands. They work side by side. And the pretty, soft, pink gifts? For my box. To a sweet toddler girl of my heart... who waits. Christmas buddies wait... everywhere.
Next week, November 15-22 is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. As we watched this video, unknowing four-year-old eyes widened. His brow furrowed seeing little ones like him in Haiti, living a life he had never imagined. "So they have to live outside now?" His voice was but a whisper.
If you would like to offer a box of simple gifts to a child who needs you this Christmas, it is so easy to do. While you may never know their face, their name, their homeland... they will remember you. You were the first person to give them a Christmas gift. You were the first person who said that they mattered. You were the first person who showed them love. You were the one who changed their hearts forever.
Go tell it on the mountain... over the hills... and everywhere.
From the bottom of my heart,
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" Matthew 28:19