A Cheerful Giver
by Rev. Doug Norris
When I was a child, our family opened gifts on Christmas morning and then had dinner with my dad’s stepsister and husband, Aunt Mina and Uncle Bob.
On Christmas Eve, we gathered with my mother’s extended family. We children had exchanged names and opened the gifts around my grandparents’ Christmas tree. One year, I think I was about 12, I decided to give presents to my 15 cousins. I carefully saved my hard-earned wages throughout the year. I earned $1 mowing a neighbor’s large lawn before the days of power mowers. I earned a $1 from each farmer’s harvest. All the farmers helped each other by going into the fields and hauling the shocks of oats to the threshing machine which moved from farm to farm. I held the bag under the chute where the harvested oats would come rolling down from the threshing machine. There were two downsides from this task—the dust and being one of the last to arrive to the dinner table where each wife would try to outdo each other. All the wives helped serve the dinner (in Minnesota, dinner was at noon; supper at night). I recall one farmer who filled his plate so full that the farmer next to him picked up the plate and passed it as if were a serving plate.
Then came the combine, which replaced the threshing machine and helped undercut neighborhood solidarity — uproarious laughter at the dinner table, cooperation and camaraderie. And they call that “progress.”
But, in the days of the threshing machine, and the dinners with neighbors and extended family, I was happy to take some of my hard-earned wages to buy 15 gifts.
I have a warm feeling to this day realizing that Christmas is about giving as well as receiving. “God loves a cheerful giver,” says 2 Corinthians 9.7, and I felt loved.