Childhood Christmas Tradition

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7

The station wagon was filled with dolls, Transformers, building blocks, stuffed animals, and an Atari game or two for the boys on Santa’s Christmas list. We wrapped up in coats, hats, and fuzzy mittens on a cold winter morning. The gold station wagon was Santa’s sleigh today. Since the presents almost topped the ceiling of the station wagon, mom slowly backed out of our driveway. It was the second Saturday of December, Nashville General Hospital’s Annual Children’s Christmas party sponsored by Nashville Chi Omega Alumnae. Every year from my third grade school year and for the next fourteen years, my mom bought the presents for the party. Some years the presents were donated from stores, then her bosses donated the gifts, and later she and my stepfather took over the gift buying.

Stepping off the elevator the stark white halls stirred a little fear in me. I had not spent much time in hospitals. Once inside the children’s wing, I felt much more at easy seeing the murals on the walls, a Christmas tree, and smiling faces and hearing Christmas music. While helping put the presents around the tree, I noticed a few open doors. Stopping in front of one, a little baby in a tall white crib captured my attention across the room. I felt sad that the baby could not be home for Christmas and had to stay in this white room without toys or animals. I could not understand why someone had not painted the rooms a color.

Then as Santa arrived excitement erupted as everyone gathered around the tree singing Christmas carols before each child picked a gift. There were smiles on faces all around with girls holding their dolls and boys playing with their trucks and cars. I hung by my mom, so afterwards, I heard families and the nurses tell my mom how much this party means to the children because many of the parents did not have money to buy presents and for some children this might be there only present.

On the way home in the car I asked my mom: “Why did the hospital not understand that having your room painted was really important to kids?” She explained that it is expensive to paint rooms and that this hospital did not have a lot of money. I told her, “One day I want to be a pediatrician and paint murals all over the walls.”

I did not become a pediatrician, but I did teach elementary school for a few years and made sure that artwork decorated every wall. Currently, I hope that through my writing I share the beauty of Jesus and how His beauty transforms lives. I have many dreams of things that I would like to do, and one relates specifically to this experience at the Nashville General Hospital.

Some years as children do, my brother and I wanted to play with friends instead of going to the Christmas party, but my mother always insisted. I am so thankful that she did not concede to my wishes but made me go. Because she loved me, she wanted what was best for me- learning to show compassion, mercy, and love to those less fortunate.

These are four things that have impacted me the most from this Christmas tradition.

– Love gives of their time and does not just give money to those in need.

– Love gives good gifts not leftovers to those in need.

– Love is not afraid of people who are different but understands we are far more similar than we are different.

– Love seeks a way to make difference in the lives of people.

-Mary Carmen


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