I’ve told this story many times before including here on this blog. It’s from my Fordham days and it never gets old. My classmates Joe Squillace and Tracy Crimmins who are both still friends today were the community service types in college and they ran the annual “Give a Child a Christmas” campaign.
Honestly it’s a pretty thankless job. It takes a lot of energy to get college students to do anything much less, running out and buying a gift for an inner city kid that they’ve never met. But Joe and Tracy were great at this. They were both well connected and they got lots of gifts donated, so much that they had gifts left over and they travelled by subway to deposit them at a local shelter. On the way back they encountered a little girl, cute as could be, on the subway.
They decided to make conversation with her and her mom, a rarity on the NYC Subways.
“Ya getting ready for Santa to come to your house?” Joe asked.
“No”, said cute little girl.
“NO! Why not?”
“Because my mommy told me that it’s two far for Santa to come all the way to the South Bronx.
Mom starts to look nervous. And Joe and Tracy calmed her with a look that said “No worries. We’ll keep the story going.”
But then the little girl said,
“But it’s OK, I already got my present.”
“Wait a minute!” Joe said. “Everyone knows Santa doesn’t come until Christmas Eve! How’d you get a present early?”
“I told you! It’s too far!” little girl said. “So Santa sends my present to this place called Fordham and we go there every year and get it from his helpers.”
Folks, you can’t make this stuff up!
Fighting back tears…Joe and Tracy both said…”Did you get what you wanted?”
And the little girl said…”I always get what I want…every year.”
And so did Joe and Tracy.
Perhaps that’s the lesson of Christmas. What gifts do we give and get that are worth far more than gold–and don’t we give and get those gifts all year long? The truth is that God gives us all that we need, if we, like Joe and Tracy, simply do all that we can with all of our gifts and talents for others.
In this season of giving, maybe it’s time for us to recall what we already have given and how much more there is for us to give? Because God came and lived as a vulnerable little baby and many people still don’t believe that this was enough. God came and died for us with the wood of the manger becoming the wood of the cross and yet, we often think we should hunger for more.
But then we meet little girls on the subway and we realize that the best gifts in life come from a place of love for one another. And that springs from God’s boundless love for each one of us.
And it is more than enough!
Merry Christmas, Joe and Tracy and all those who inspire me each year, especially my students, my colleagues and my loving wife and that cute dog who is happy to be huddling next to me for warmth.