As I rushed around the streets of Morelia, Mexico, the stoplights were crowded with beggars. It was Christmas Eve, and I had gone out with my 10-year-old daughter Cathy for some last-minute shopping.
“Look at her!” Cathy drew my attention to an old woman who had stopped begging momentarily and was rubbing her cold, bare feet.
“She’s someone’s grandmother,” I thought aloud, “but instead of being home with her family, she is out here in her bare feet, trying to scrape together a little money for food.” Then an idea struck me. “Cathy, let’s go home and get together some food for her.”
It was already getting dark, so she probably wouldn’t be working that stoplight much longer. We raced home, found a couple of sturdy bags, and began going through our well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. Rice, beans, dried jalapeños, a jar of salsa, corn tortillas, a cooked chicken. It was easy to fill the bags from our abundance. A loaf of bread, jam, bacon. I tied the bags with large bows, and we headed off to find the old woman.
At first we thought we had taken too long and missed her. Then we saw her trudging slowly down the street, her shawl wrapped tightly around her, probably on her way home.
“Hello!” Cathy greeted her and continued in Spanish. “We saw you at the stoplight and brought you some food for Christmas dinner. We hope you and your family will feel God’s love this Christmas.”
The old woman looked at us with wonderment, and tears welled up in her eyes. Then she took Cathy’s hands in hers and kissed them. “Thank you. Thank you. God bless you. You are beautiful. You are a Christmas angel.”
She took the bags and continued down the street.
Our own Christmas Eve was festive, as usual, and the next morning Cathy opened her gifts. When I asked her if she was having a good Christmas, she replied, “You know, Mommy, seeing that old woman so happy last night, and having her kiss my hands—that was the best Christmas present I received. I think giving is the best part of Christmas!”