“As I made my way through winding rows of toys, frustration swelled in my spirit. All this stuff—what does any of it have to do with our Savior’s birth? I thought as I pitched a baby doll my daughter had asked for into my cart. This year I’d vowed to cut back on buying so many gifts and focus on the reason for the season, but here I was, fighting the shopping crowds just like everyone else.
“As I stewed in the long checkout line, a mother, her baby girl and her two boys got in line behind me with two overstuffed shopping carts. Obviously, this woman had also fallen victim to the materialism eating away at the true meaning of Christmas and was encouraging her children to do the same! I stiffly disregarded their giggles as I paid for the doll. At least my family wasn’t that bad, I prided myself, glancing at their cart once more.
“As I turned to leave, I heard the cashier say, ‘Whoa! That’s a lot of toys,’ to the oldest boy. ‘Yeah!’ the boy replied with a smile. ‘Mom told us each to pick 10 stars off the Christmas giving tree at church, so we’re buying all these toys for the kids who don’t have any! Isn’t that so cool?’
“I froze as shame overwhelmed me. I had been so busy comparing this family to my own that I had overlooked their giving hearts. As it turned out, they were doing God’s work, while I was just adding to the pile under my own tree. In that instant, I knew what I had to do. ‘Excuse me,’ I said, turning around. ‘I couldn’t help but overhear and wondered if you’d be open to splitting the cost of those toys with me?’ The family happily agreed, and as we ushered the toys out of the store, my heart swelled with love for a God who puts just the right people in our paths to open our hearts.”
—Annabelle Prior, 52, Salem, MA