This Christmas season has been a unique one for me. I graduated from SWU this past May, and I find myself currently working as a Special Education Assistant at Central Academy of the Arts. I love my job and those that I work with, as I have a great opportunity to serve the kids that I work around each day. Graduation brought with it much excitement and opportunity, but it has also brought some major adjustments. I have been surprised by how fast Christmas has come up this year. I worked each Christmas season while I was in college, but there has been something about not taking a “break” yet that has made Christmas seem like it shouldn’t even be here. I officially go on break with many of my fellow public education employees as of Friday, December 20th, but this past Wednesday, December 18th, I woke up and thought to myself, Wow, Christmas is only a week away.
December has seemed like a blur to me so far. I work in a self-contained classroom with three other teachers (two other assistants and the head teacher), and we all work together to serve our 12 students. This week, the head teacher suggested that we buy each student a small gift for Christmas. This would leave each teacher responsible for three students. Some of the students that we work with don’t get the best financial support at home either, so a small gift could go a long way with these kids.
Honestly, my first thought was, how am I going to budget for this? As I had prepared to make it work anyhow, the school secretary came into our classroom at the end of the day with four gift bags. The mother of one of our students took it upon herself to make all four of us gift bags for Christmas. While this was an inspiration in itself, the contents helped even more. She had blessed us each with $25 Visa gift cards. It was as if God said, “Here you go!” I now had money that wasn’t even my own, to buy my three students their gifts.
As I went into my second job, I stopped by a retail store to pick up their gifts. After circling the store a few times and putting some thought into what I wanted to get my students, I decided on the items, checked out at the register and made my way to work. And this is where I feel that many of you can relate. Maybe your work is demanding. Or your family life is so crazy that your head feels like it’s constantly on a swivel. My head felt like it was on a swivel that day, so I grabbed the gifts and kept them in my car until our Christmas party at school Thursday.
But then the party happened. When we all handed our students their gifts, it was like the room was lit up with joy. I threw football, watched as one of my students used his superhero mask to pretend that he was in outer space, and I was even chased around by a colorful stuffed owl. The excitement and joy that came over these kids from these small gifts simply made my Christmas season. I find more value in the statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” than I ever have before (Acts 20:35 ESV). With less than a week left before Christmas, God reminded me of what an opportunity we have each day to give to those around us. And while we should look to do this throughout the entire year, Christmas is a good place to start. I hope you understand me and that this will inspire you to touch somebody’s life this Christmas season.