For many little girls, life with father is a dress rehearsal for love and marriage.

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Frankly Phyllis

What Would Jesus Like For Christmas?

What would Jesus like for Christmas? Well, what does He need? What wouldn't He take back to the store? Those were my warm up questions for helping my kids experience giving without getting. Dressed in their Christmas best, I took my three, four, eight and eleven-year-old violinists to play for a few shut-ins. With a break in the weather, we headed for Anita's upstairs apartment on Clay Street. It was a U-shaped building with an upstairs deck and railing with a courtyard below. I'd arranged with Anita's caregiver to open her apartment door and we would play. My last minute reminder to the kids that true giving from a loving heart expects nothing in return seemed to sink in as we approached the large complex.

The door opened to a space too tight even for small musicians. No problem -- we stood outside and played a 10-minute repertoire. The three girls watched my conducting, but my son, Brooks, while on the correct notes, was looking at a moving object I caught out of the corner of my eye. Whenever he would look back at me, the fluttering would resume and I'd lose him again! After recital bows, I turned to face a smiling audience of residents lining the balcony. The movement that had caught Brooks' eye was a man waving paper money!

On all of our minds was the mantra something for nothing, so the kids were prepared to not take payment from the man. As the children walked past the clapping adults, I heard the moneyman's plaintiff, "Please, I want you to have this. You've brought us such a wonderful Christmas tonight!" I quickly realized that to ignore his heartfelt response could be hurtful. I thanked him and said it would go to the Christ-child. Brooks was all eyes!

With instruments tucked back in their cases, we drove to the next "something for nothing" opportunity. We decided to give 90% of the man's money to the children's Christmas Eve service and spend 10% on the instrumentalists. It wasn't the lesson I'd planned, but then some of life's best lessons aren't!

The next performance that evening was at the house of Augusta, an elderly woman who literally got "into" the bells and whistles of Christmas. She had more blinking lights in her windows and front room than you could take in without worrying about brain damage! And what didn't blink, whistled, sang or popped out of a box or nest. She was delighted to show off her collection. The kids were wide-eyed over it, except for the youngest who jumped every time a new gadget rolled across the floor or ceiling. This performance lasted only five minutes and we were on our way again, but not before Augusta disappeared and reappeared with a wrapped box. Same thing...we had to take it or she would have been offended. We buckled up and opened a re-gifted box of chocolates. And most of them were still in there!

This Christmas, see what sweet things happen when you give something and expect nothing in return. Frankly, you might be surprised by just how much comes back to you!

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