I used to despise Christmas. In fact, I despised any time in the year that added financial pressure to give gifts and to have things. I dreaded those times. I knew what was ahead of me as I looked into the eyes of the people surrounding me day and night: panic, insecurity, fear, and anger. I knew their means of getting money. I knew their means of coping. I knew who they would take it out on. I knew it would be me. I was their fix, their escape, their greatest regret; yet the only avenue chosen. Christmas seemed cruel, demanding, and without reason or reward.
I got a gift one year from the mother of the man who was selling me. She got me a white bottle of perfume. It was a simple gesture on her part. She put it in my hands, said Merry Christmas, and waited for me to unwrap it as she watched. For some reason, this sparked hope that was lying dormant in me waiting for a chance to come out. I saw the bottle, thanked her, and waited for her to explain. She looked puzzled at my anxious waiting for her words; so, she touched my shoulder and said goodbye. I packed my little hope back into the suitcase of my heart and went back to where I lived. I thought about this transaction many times feeling so unsatisfied. I wanted a story. I wanted to know why she picked that smell, that bottle, that wrapping paper for me. I needed to know why I got a gift and why I had to give to so many. I desperately wanted the answer of Christmas.
Now, years later, I know what Christmas is. I know what Christmas isn’t. Something so scary and barren has now become one of the most beautiful and precious times I hold in my heart. Because of this experience, I do not cut people short when giving a gift or telling the Christmas story. I really show them, because I have really seen. I think over and over if only she could have shown me. It may not have changed where I lived or what I went through that Christmas, but I would have had an answer for it all and hope would not have been packed up again. I believe the power of the gift of the Christmas story could have changed my life then. And I believe that it can and does change lives this year. I have my answer and I want to give many theirs.
In the spring of 2012 Nichole graduated our Restoration Program and she is now a featured writer on our blog. To read more blogs written by Nichole go to: http://exoduscry.com/category/blog/restoration/