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About the Writer:
Joanne Sampl

With grown step-children, college age sons and a self-employed husband, Joanne offers her time to God and to others. Her interest in writing and communications brought her back to college as an adult and through several reinventions of her own business and ministries. With time on her hands, she writes about God and life.



A Toll Painting Christmas

By Joanne Sampl

As the fifth child in a fairly large family, Christmas shopping and giving presents to everyone became quite expensive for me as a kid. Okay, my bargain shopping started early back then. I’ll never forget the memory of my mom’s best friend, Mrs. Steenrod, taking me to the neighborhood dime store to buy presents for my family one year. I was probably 6 or 7 years old at the time, but she was shocked at the way I stretched my $5 as far as I could to get everyone presents.

Let’s see: Johnny could use a hair comb with an insurance company’s information on it. That was a dime. And, Kay could use the girly smelling bar of soap for a quarter. Jeanie could use a pen, and Margaret could use the pencil that came with the pen. For Dad, I’m sure he needed another ruler, and Mom needed another dishtowel since I stained one of them. And, of course, MaryAnn really needed another toothbrush, since I had dropped hers in the toilet those few times. Yep. Christmas for 7 people cost me around $1.87. I’ve always been a bargain hunter, I guess. Mrs. Steenrod seemed to enjoy my creativity.

Several years later, I think I really learned about the gift giving process in another way.

My mom gave me a very special gift for my birthday that year: She signed me up for toll painting classes at a nearby craft store. No one in the family ever got to take art classes like that, and I was so excited to really learn how to paint. For Christmas that year, everyone got hand-painted ornaments from me that year. I spent hours and hours sanding small pieces of wood, finishing them with a light stain, drawing my own design on them, and tediously painting each gift. I spent almost all of the money I earned babysitting on that year’s Christmas gifts. I really learned to give that year.

Giving has taken on an even deeper meaning for me now as an adult.

The true meaning of Christmas is so much more than me giving to anyone else. It’s not about the price tag or even about the effort I put into the gift. Christmas is about God giving to me. God, the Creator of the Universe, gave me the Most Precious, hand-made outpouring of His love when He came to earth as a baby. Christmas is about receiving more than any of us could give to anyone else.

Christmas is about receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

How I pray you know Him, love Him and have received from Him this holiday. It will change everything.



Copyright © December 9, 2006 – Joanne Sampl. All rights reserved.


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