Christmas comes in hearts of children

Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist

I received the following email from our youngest son. With Christmas approaching I find that Lane’s story about my granddaughter truly expresses the real meaning of Christmas. I share it here with his permission:

“It was my turn at church to serve communion to the elderly people who can’t make it to the church services. Kallie went with me, clinging to her soccer beanie baby. She loved that doll more than anything!

We went to serve the first person on our list at a local nursing home. He was a kindly old gentleman named George. I had visited him before. He was pleasant and physically spry for his age. He seemed happy to see us. My daughter is good with the elderly. She immediately went and gave him a big hug (beanie baby and all). The smile on his face seemed to grow from the depths of his heart. There is nothing like the love of a little child to brighten anyone’s day.

I asked George if he had any family around, and he said no. I asked him how he had been doing, to which he replied, “not very well.” He went on to say that he just wasn’t having a good day. However, he had a great attitude about it and he knew that God was in control, but that we all have to accept the good with the bad. As I glanced over to my daughter, I could see the sympathy in her eyes. It was the kind of sympathy that only a child can have in their somewhat limited understanding of an adult world, but it’s a pure kind of sympathy that knows no age boundaries.

When our conversation had wound down and after we served him communion, we started saying our good-byes, but as he did the last time I visited him, George got up and said he would walk us out. He said it’s good for him to get up and walk from time to time. When we exited the building, he kept on walking through the courtyard with us, right to the gate out by the street. I shook his hand and thanked him for walking us out. He seemed grateful to have had visitors and thanked us.

Then it happened … my daughter really caught me off guard. As she went to hug him goodbye, she held up her beanie baby and said, “You can have him.” I found myself wanting to leap forward and say, “No … you don’t have to …” but I was frozen in my tracks and didn’t move or say anything. George bent down and took it from her with a smile and gave her a hug.

I was stunned … what only took in actuality a few seconds is frozen in my mind. I can see the smile on his face and the look of compassion in her eyes. My mind was trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed. My 8-year-old daughter had just shown me Christ in action. Her love and compassion was a natural and immediate manifestation of her love and obedience. What self-sacrifice! I can only hope and pray that I could be so loving and giving.

As we made our way to my truck, I turned and looked back at George. My lasting memory, burned into my mind forever, was that of a bent-over little old man, who had just been touched by God through the heart of a little child, shuffling back to his confinement, clutching a little smiley-faced soccer beanie baby.

What a life-lesson that was. My vision was blurred from watery eyes as I told my daughter how much I loved her and how proud I was of her and how she had just made God smile!”