We have our family Christmas before Christmas because we always travel to Colorado.
The Saturday before we head out for the holiday, we've established a family tradition, thanks to my aunt and uncle, who treat us financially to a family day for our Christmas present.
We ice skate at Crown Center, gorge ourselves at The Cheesecake Factory, see a movie (this year we saw Wreck It, Ralph), and open our family presents.
The day is always one of the highlights of our Christmas week.
This year was no different, but we started with lunch first.
Because it's good to be sickening full of food when you ice skate.
As we practically skipped with excitement toward The Cheesecake Factory, a man on crutches stood out front. Dressed in layers of clothing trying to keep warm, he was holding a cup for money. The kids remembered him there last year too.
He joyfully smiled at people walking by. You couldn't help but want to give this man a big hug.
Money for my daughter's Christmas present? Have a blessed day.
My children slowed as we neared him.
They love to give generously...my coins...and so they begged me for some money to put in his cup.
It's amazing how generous they are with someone else's money.
I, however, firmly believe that children asking to give money to someone else should rarely be denied. It's just a thing I have. Who am I to judge the worth of the receiver?
Give, Children, give.
They are too young to become hardened to need.
That will come in time, I'm sure.
But as long as they are under our roof, if we have the money, we let our children give.
We gorged ourselves on fabulous food and prepared to leave with two bags full of leftovers.
My nine-year-old daughter had the idea.
Let's buy him a hamburger.
My husband and I looked at each other.
The waitress brought our bag of leftovers.
Well, we could give him our leftovers...
Our leftovers? Food we'd touched, took bites out of, germified...
The kids were mortified. Give him our leftovers, Mom?
The hamburger was going to take fifteen minutes and we were short on time.
"How about cheesecake?" a child suggested as we packed up.
"No, he doesn't need cheesecake," an adult offered practically.
We walked out...empty handed of gifts for the man on the street...heads somewhat downcast...carrying our excess food.
We slipped some more money in his cup, but I couldn't help but think that we somehow missed an awesome opportunity to foster the generosity of children and teach them a bigger lesson.
I woke up thinking about cheesecake this morning.
Lessons learned sometimes take days to hit me.
Cheesecake would have been a great idea.
Cheesecake for the man on the street.
Because isn't that what God does for us?
We deserve nothing.
He saved our souls from eternal hell with His death on the cross.
That's more than enough.
Yet, He gives us cheesecake too.
Children, houses, sunsets, warmth, laughter, love, hope, families, churches, joy, celebrations, coffee, snow, flowers, light, animals, hugs, kindness, and so much more.
We should have bought the man on the street a cheesecake.
And we should have done that telling our children,
"This is what your Heavenly Father has done for you."