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It was a Christmas lesson I will never forget.

My kids were 5 and 6 years old and I was in the midst of my super woman days. I made all of my Christmas cards, decorated packages with glitter and bows, baked batches of Christmas cookies and volunteered to help with the school's Holiday Pageant.

Not being able to say no to anybody, I 'volunteered' to collect donated food from the bowling league I belonged to. Having procrastinated a bit, it was now Monday of Christmas week and I was scrambling to find a place to donate the food.

Why, I don't know, but every food pantry I called was closed or not accepting donations. I was exhausted and frustrated. Plus I was angry at my self for putting this off to the last minute and felt responsible to the group to get this food to needy people before Christmas.

After 10 phone calls, I finally found a connection to a Hmong family living in a depressed area of my city. Still clinging to the desire to teach my kids the true meaning of Christmas, I asked them to look in their rooms for a couple of books or outgrown toys to add to the food for this family of 12 I had found.

My kids brought me a handful of broken crayons.

Fiercely protective of their belongings, they were unable to understand the request. "But these are MY toys; I don't want to give them away."

Becoming more frustrated by the moment, I was becoming harsh with the kids and then of course was feeling guilty for being such a grouch.

I piled us all into the car, loaded all the food and off we went.

While on the way, my daughter asked where we were going and I tried to explain about the part of the city the family lived in and why things were tough for them. In the midst of my explanation, I mentioned that they lived on 34th street.

"Oh" she gasped with wonder, "Our own Miracle on 34th Street".

My mood instantly melted as my heart registered with the truth of her observation. We were making a miracle, procrastination, broken crayons and all. The real meaning of Christmas WAS spite of all my plans and explanations.

As we carried bag after bag of groceries into the house, the gratitude on the face of the pregnant mother of the brood was unmistakable. Understanding not a word of English, she kept thanking us over and over in her native language.

I wish you your own Miracle on 34th Street experience this year. I hope you are surprised by the wonder of the season in a totally unexpected way. Take time to look into someone's eyes and let them know you care. Surprise someone with a handwritten note of thanks. Leave an extra large tip for the people that serve you.

Do Christmas different this year. You will love how you feel.


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