The following is a true story. It’s the childhood story of someone in Liberty Church.
And it’s a timely reminder of why our Angel Tree initiative with Liberty City is so critical.
Let’s never forget to live generously…
The only presents I remember were from strangers.
My holiday seasons as a child had no hope. My parents didn’t believe in Christ, and the countdown to Christmas felt like a build-up to catastrophe.
I grew up in American poverty, the selfish result of parents in prisons of addiction and hate. My dad worked two low-paying jobs and was never home. My mom was always present, but never really all there. He spent his cash on booze and porn. She sold herself for illegal drugs in our living room.
With dad always gone and mom always high, I spent my time looking after my sisters and doing well during elementary school. I normally didn’t notice my life was different from my classmates, but it was clear whenever Christmas came around. Everyone talked about carols and big family dinners, and I realized those weren’t the kind of things I had at home. We barely had food at home.
I remember wishing I could stay in school instead of going on break. I hated being home; it was never happy there. Christmas break brought more tension, yelling, and violence than usual this particular year. I didn’t have hope that things would get better until one night, when a knock on the door of our trailer interrupted my mom and dad’s yelling.
We never had visitors that were good, so my sisters and I were cautious. As my mom opened the door, I peeked curiously out the window. Much to my surprise, I saw people in Santa hats. They were smiling, singing songs and carrying boxes topped with bows. At first, I was confused and convinced they were at the wrong place. Then they started setting the presents inside our doorway, and my heart skipped with excitement. I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Wow. Christmas is here.”
I don’t remember presents I got from other Christmases of my childhood, but I remember these ones. They weren’t anything extravagant. I got new white socks, a pink turtleneck shirt, and a beanie baby aardvark. I don’t think that I remember them because of what they were, but rather how I got them. Strangers interrupted my hopeless home life to give me joy when my parents couldn’t.