When I was growing up, my friends would make long lists for “Santa” of what they wanted for Christmas. But I always knew Santa wasn’t real. My parents had made that very clear from the time I was young. So in our family, my brothers and I looked for creative ways to be “Santa” by buying or making gifts for each other. We spent coins earned from raking leaves or mowing lawns on Calvin and Hobbes or TinTin comic books, Matchbox cars, and Lego sets at garage sales and thrift stores, then wrapped them up excitedly and put them under the tree.
The year my youngest brother was born, however, was a very unusual Christmas. My dad had unexpectedly lost his job a few months earlier, and it was increasingly difficult to provide for our family of six. Sitting us down in the living room one day in December, my parents explained to my younger brothers and me that we might not have presents that year. Though I was only nine years old at the time, I sensed some of the seriousness of the situation. I remember the quiet confidence of my parents as they prayed and entrusted our family to God, thanking Him for His provision for all of our needs.
Ding-Dong! The doorbell rang sharply on Christmas Eve. My brother opened the door, then called to the rest of us to come quickly. We all crowded in the doorway, staring in disbelief. There was no one there. But on the ground were bags of groceries, including a huge turkey for Christmas dinner, and wrapped packages for each of us!
Upon opening the gifts, we found toys and clothes for baby Daniel, wooden blocks for three-year-old Michael, a microscope set for seven-year-old Stephen, and a sweater with pink and purple hearts for me – exactly my size!
We never found out who left those Christmas gifts on our front step. There was no note or indication of the giver’s identity. Jokingly we called it our “mystery Santa.” But we all knew that it wasn’t Santa at all. God was taking care of us. That Christmas I learned more about the character of God as our loving Father, who provided not only for our needs, but above and beyond!
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)