My mom was never the typical homemaker. She didn't sew or make crafty things with her children. When the house was clean, it was because someone had been hired to do the dirty work. And dinner menus were planned around local fast food restaurants. My mom certainly was not like the moms I saw at school helping with the talent show or bake sale.
Mom was also different because she worked outside of the home to help support our family. Traveling to and from work, my mom often passed a group of homeless people huddled together on the sidewalk. As the weeks went by, the group remained. On occasion Mom would stop and have a chat with a few of them or bring by some of her famous dinners from the local fast food joint. Poor and cold, they were in need of many things that we took for granted. Warm clothes, food, a bed to sleep in and the comfort of a home.
Christmas was approaching and Mom came up with the perfect idea. One thing we learned as kids was that when Mom had a plan, there was no stopping her. Full speed ahead, Mom came home and told us about her friends. We talked about her idea and what we could do to get things moving. While we had little money ourselves, Mom was determined to make a real Christmas for her new friends. I listened in as she made phone calls to business owners and vendors, asking them to help create a true Christmas for these people in such desperate need.
In a short time Mom had two complimentary hotel rooms where we could host our Christmas celebration. At the hotel our friends would be able to enjoy warm showers and comfortable beds to sleep in for the night. Soon we had a local caterer donating a full Christmas dinner, a tree lot owner giving us a fresh cut pine tree to decorate and friends donating basic hygiene items and small gifts.
Christmas Eve arrived and Mom took my sister and I to meet her friends at the hotel. We sat a talked with people who really needed a listening ear. We watched them become overjoyed at receiving simple gifts like a toothbrush. And we saw the tears stream down their cheeks as we sang Christmas carols and hymns together. One lady told us that we were her angels. I knew the true angel that Christmas was my mother. She had organized all of this in such a short amount of time and with the pure love of Christ in her heart. It was her ability to love people even when they seemed unlovable, and her willingness to step out and try something new that made a meaningful Christmas for all of us.
I was nine years old that Christmas and am grateful to my mom for teaching me how to give to others and helping me learn that talents do not come in prepackaged boxes. Even though her talents were not as visible as some of the other moms I knew, they were just the right ones to help those around her feel the joy of the Christmas season and the true spirit of Christ.