My Angel Tree

My mom was an expert at choosing just the rights gifts and after reading Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, I’m convinced her love language was gift giving. For anyone who hasn’t read this book, I highly recommend taking the time to read it cover to cover and if you’re in a relationship, it’s fun to read it together.

Giving and receiving gifts is not my love language so when I’m asked what I want, I usually just glaze over and respond with candles, or a bottle of wine or some warm fuzzy socks. My husband is always amused when I tell him his gifts of the electric can opener and the cookie scoop rank among my favorites.

I don’t think my mom ever asked me what I wanted, but every year both for Christmas and my birthday she managed to give me the perfect gift. At some point I expressed interest in collecting angels and from that point on she added a new angel every year to my ever growing collection. Each year I would look forward to her angel gift.

The first Christmas after my divorce I decided against a big tree and instead went to my local Walgreens and purchased a 4′ tree and filled it with all my little angels. The little tree now 15 years old, represents all my blessings, and I especially love the angels that came from far away places like Armenia or Guatemala, given to me by some very special people.

Long ago when I was still working at Heifer International, I was with a group of volunteers and donors in Alabama visiting some farmers of a self-help group who received some livestock and training from Heifer. When we rounded the corner, we saw a trailer that was partially destroyed from a fire and as we entered, there was a banquet of food served on a table covered with beautiful linens. The food was made lovingly by the group members. At the conclusion of the meal, our host gave us each a beaded angel ornament, she told us that these beautiful crafted angel ornaments were made by their self help group and sold with the proceeds used to buy food for the poor. That’s right, this woman lived in a partially burned out trailer and she was raising money to help others.

My beaded Alabama angel is a constant reminder during each holiday season of the generosity that is shown to others. I’ve learned through my years in non profit fundraising work, that it’s often those who have the least that share the largest percentage of what they have with those who have less. Maybe it’s because they have experienced first hand what it’s like to be hungry, or not pay the rent or keep the lights on, that compels them to share with others.

This Christmas season is like no other we have experienced in our lifetime. And as difficult as things are right now, my spirits are lifted by all those who are actively looking for others to help this year. Our own church is sponsoring Food is Love, Donate ( a program to provide food to those struggling and since May we’ve provided over 13,000 meals. It’s a staggering amount considering where we live. Our family is forgoing gifts this year and we along with some friends are donating bags filled with hats, mittens, blankets, socks, journals and toiletries to 33 residents at a local addiction recovery center. It’s our way of paying our good fortunes forward.

So this season I encourage you to find what makes your spirit soar, give it some thought, you may be surprised at what you learn!

Blessing and peace to you all