Monday, December 8, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas, my sponsor gave to me...

Four gifts throughout the year

I remember it like it was yesterday...

The Sears catalog would arrive in the mail, and my brothers and I – in an act of unusual solidarity – would spend day after day researching the toy section, dog-earing pages and itemizing must-haves. Lists were drawn up, meticulously revised and then narrowed down by the process of elimination.

Our excitement could hardly be contained when we finally reached the wee hours of Christmas morning. The record player would start to skip through its fourth rotation of “Silent Night,” and we would lie wide-eyed in bed listening to the sound of scissors slicing through wrapping paper, trying to visualize how large our gifts were.

A few unbearable hours later, we’d throw back the sheets, go rouse our parents from a brief night’s slumber, and beg our dad to go downstairs and make sure Santa had remembered to stop by. Finally, we’d hear the words we’d waited for all year long…“Okay, it’s all clear!”

Tumbling down the stairs and into the living room, we’d discover a picture-perfect Christmas setting full of shiny new toys and packages glimmering in the golden haze of Christmas lights. It was every child’s dream come true.

Seeing sponsored children receive gifts during our four annual gift distributions is like being a child at Christmas all over again. I see the same excitement and sense of wonder that I myself experienced as a child.

Blessings Changwe couldn’t stop smiling when she received her Christmas gift last year. “I want to tell my sponsor thank you very much and that I hope she had a happy Christmas,” Blessings said. “This gift means that I now have something to keep me warm at night.”

Weeks before a gift distribution takes place – no matter if it’s Christmas, Easter, Birthdays or Special Hug Day – sponsored children start begging their parents to tell them what they’re going to receive. That’s because their parents, like Secret Santas, help us choose what gifts their children need and want most.

And boys and girls are usually so excited they can barely sleep the night before. They even wake up earlier than normal so they can be first in line. Running to the center, their eyes light up the moment they see their friends and neighbors clutching packages that contain gifts like colorful new clothes or shoes, backpacks, books and art kits.

The gifts children receive may not be as lavish as what I was fortunate to find waiting for me on Christmas morning, but they are just as excited about what they receive – and far more grateful.

On those special days when we host gift distributions, sponsored children are the center of attention – and unlike so many other days filled with poverty and hardship – everything seems right with the world.

Posted on behalf of Damon Guinn

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