| from Steve Baker |

When I was a young boy growing up in western Colorado, a white Christmas was not uncommon. Neither was my family being happy and absorbed into traditional Christmas celebrations. What was uncommon were the lessons I learned through the practices my parents instilled into those holiday traditions.

Both my parents worked. Dad was a department manager at the old Montgomery Wards store, and mom was a hospital nurse and dental assistant. However, they were strapped with heavy medical bills as my older brother had multiple health issues. For the first many years of my life, he was in the hospital two or three times a year. There were many occasions when mom and dad would tell us they did not know if my brother would live until the next Christmas. I think this is why my parents labored so hard to make Christmas special.

I do not believe in my childish understanding that I fully grasped the sacrifices they made. However I did catch valuable lessons of selfless giving and service. For example, to raise additional Christmas funds, my parents went to the local dump and rummaged to find discarded pieces of furniture they could refurbish. Dad repaired broken parts. Mom cleaned, sewed, and together they would reupholster chairs and couches. Then they would sell these at a local auction house. I’ll never forget a sectional which they transformed into a beautiful green piece with a built-in wood coffee table. I was so impressed with their creativity.

They spent some of the money from these sales on our Christmas presents. It was more important to them to purchase Christmas crafts and food so we could learn uncommon lessons. Mom purchased the necessary parts for my older brother to create artificial Christmas corsages. My sister and I helped with the assembly process and delivered these to a local store to sell. This taught us to work to raise our own money for our own Christmas shopping. They encouraged us to use this to buy the fixings for Christmas cookies and fudge. Of course we loved baking and eating part of our produce, but the goal was creating gifts for our teachers, pastor, neighbors, and friends.

I am so grateful for the sacrifice my parents made to make Christmas uncommonly special for us. As I grew, I learned the reason behind their dedication. Yes, they loved all of us and wanted to care for my older brother’s needs. But the motivation they shared was even more uncommon. The message of Christmas giving and sacrifice which they demonstrated was derived from their faith. Their belief that God made the supreme sacrifice by sending His son, Jesus Christ, as Emmanuel, our Savior and Redeemer motivated them to want to teach us to give of ourselves as well. If God could be so gracious to give us salvation through Jesus, how could we not graciously give to those around us? Truly I can now say with the apostle Paul, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” I surely hope you know Him, too, and have received His gift!

Steve Baker and his wife, Joyce have been two of Dr. Kathy’s thought-leaders for years. Now they’re both Celebrate Kids Associate Speakers and Writers. They work closely together. Steve has served in ministry for almost 40 years. With his heart for discipleship, he has worked as a senior pastor, associate pastor, teacher, coach, and hospice chaplain. Steve has a passion for families, mentoring believers, and discipling parents to walk in this world humbly and boldly as warriors sharing the powerful message of the gospel to all people.