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Operation Blessing Bonnie

A family's generosity turns out to be not just a good idea, but a God idea.

Christmas giving. Photo by Olga Miltsova, Thinkstock.

She was the sweetest preschool teacher I’d ever encountered, and my girls absolutely adored her.

She was June Cleaver and Carol Brady all wrapped into one happy, beautiful package, and I was very thankful that Ms. Bonnie was in my daughters’ lives.

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As a single mom to one pre-teen daughter, Ms. Bonnie managed to provide for her family, serve in the local church, volunteer at the county’s soup kitchen and always look like a million bucks; however, I had heard that she was struggling with her finances.

Abby and Ally, who gave to Ms. Bonnie.I overheard one of the other moms talking about how Ms. Bonnie’s child support was pretty much non-existent, and I knew she couldn’t have been making much more than minimum wage at my daughters’ pre-school.

My heart went out to her, but somehow, that just didn’t seem enough that December. It was time to put action behind my heartfelt sentiments.

On that particular Sunday, our family walked into the church foyer and noticed a large Christmas tree in the corner. Upon further inspection, we discovered little angel tags hanging on each of its branches.

“What are those?” asked Ally, my then 4-year-old.

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“They’re angels!” Abby, my then 5-year-old, answered her little sister.

“Yeah but what’s all that writing on the angels’ heads?” Ally continued.

“Oh, well that is the name of each of the angels in heaven,” Abby answered, matter-of-factly.

My husband and I smiled at each other upon hearing Abby’s answer, but neither of us had the heart to correct her at that moment. Plus, we were late so we grabbed the girls’ hands and took our seats in the back of the sanctuary.

Later in the service, our pastor explained the meaning of the Angel tree and urged each of us to take a few angel tags and purchase gifts for those children who wouldn’t receive Christmas presents any other way. 

After the closing hymn, the girls rushed out to the Angel tree and grabbed one angel tag each.

“Mom, do you think Ms. Bonnie and her daughter are on that angel tree?” asked Abby, who had obviously overheard my conversation about Bonnie’s situation with Jeff on our drive to church.

Abby’s question took my breath away because I’d already been thinking that we should adopt Ms. Bonnie’s family for Christmas, and Abby had just confirmed that it wasn’t just a good idea–it was a God idea.

The next few weeks were filled with lots of holiday fanfare–Christmas plays, Christmas cards, Christmas cookies, Christmas shopping and so much more. But, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, we initiated “Operation Blessing Bonnie.”

Sneakily, we found out all of Ms. Bonnie’s favorite things and all of her sizes and needs. One of the other preschool workers also helped us find out Ms. Bonnie’s daughter’s sizes and needs. We were in stealth mode, and my girls loved it!

As we finished purchasing gifts for the two angels we’d chosen from the Angel tree, Ally came running up to the cart with fuzzy leopard slippers.

“I know Ms. Bonnie would love these!” Ally beamed. “Can we get these, too?”

I was amazed at how excited my girls were to be shopping for others! After all, they had made out their Christmas wish lists way back in October, but they weren’t at all concerned with their presents.

Abby and Ally were totally focused on buying presents for the two angels we’d adopted and even more obsessed with making sure Ms. Bonnie and her daughter had a beautiful Christmas.

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For years, I’d read the Christmas story to my daughters, explaining how God had given His very best gift when He sent Jesus. They’d nod as if they understood, but I was afraid they were getting caught up in the commercialism of Christmas and forgetting the true meaning of the Christmas Story.

I feared they wouldn’t understand the sacrifice God made for us. I worried they would grow up being takers, not givers simply because we’d given them so much.

But, at that moment, when Ally begged me to buy fuzzy slippers for Ms. Bonnie, I realized my girls were grasping the joy of giving and honoring the true spirit of Christmas. As a praying mama, that was the best gift I could’ve ever received.

As we wrapped every present for Ms. Bonnie, her daughter, and the angels we’d adopted, we sang Christmas carols and munched on Christmas cookies. Abby made special curly bows for the top of each package, and Ally insisted we add glittery Christmas nametags.

We delivered the gifts for our angels, and then we headed for the preschool. After calling ahead to make sure Ms. Bonnie was gone for the day, we placed each of her packages under her desk.

Then Ally and Abby stacked Ms. Bonnie’s daughter’s gifts in Ms. Bonnie’s large cubby hole at the front of the classroom.

The girls’ giggles filled the air as tears filled my eyes. I wanted to pray over the gifts before we left, so I asked Abby and Ally to do so. Abby passed, and Ally kept is short and sweet:

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“Dear God, help this be the bestest Christmas Ms. Bonnie and her daughter ever had. Amen.”

I heard from the other teachers that Ms. Bonnie and her daughter did have a wonderful Christmas that year. I don’t know if it ended up being their “bestest,” but it certainly was ours.

It was the year we learned it truly is better to give than to receive, and it was the year that set the tone for all of our future Christmases.

May this Christmas be your bestest ever!

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