“Christmas is not about receiving. It is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ; the ultimate giver.” Author Unknown
December 23, 1988 – Mississippi Delta – The Pickett family is making their normal Christmas arrangements. Yet, they do not know that this year will be very different than any other.
John Pickett, a successful businessman and Christian, is startled by a dream of a child waking up on Christmas morning, running to the Christmas tree, and then suddenly stopping.
There are no gifts under the tree.
As John awakens in a cold sweat, he knows that he cannot go back to sleep. So, he gets up and begins to work on his latest financial venture.
But, the dream is so distracting that he cannot concentrate. He knows that God wants him to do something.
6:00am – After four hours, he is certain about what he needs to do. A family meeting must take place now. He goes into the bedroom and awakens his tired wife, Elizabeth. She brings their children, Susanna (age 6) and Jeb (age 11), into the living room where they sit on the couch.
“What is it, Daddy”, Susanna asks. John hesitates briefly and then says, “Children, we have been blessed with many things. However, we all know that Mr. Johnston and his two young daughters down the road are currently without any money. Mr. Johnston will not be able to buy Christmas gifts for his two girls. I have an idea that will require you to show your character, selflessness, and kindness. Before we go forward with this idea, I need the entire family to agree.”
“You have plenty of toys and may receive a couple of Christmas gifts. But, the Johnston girls will receive nothing. I propose that our family use the money set aside for you to provide the girls with a Christmas full of gifts.”
Susanna’s eyes brightened while Jeb posed a scowling look. After a family vote, with Jeb finally agreeing, the plan begins. The first part of the plan is to ensure that the Johnston family does not know who purchased the gifts nor where they came from.
Next, Jeb and Susanna will carry the bag of gifts to the Johnston’s home after sundown on Christmas Eve and quietly leave the bag of presents outside on their porch window where it can be seen when the sun rises.”
While John and Elizabeth are concerned about their children walking down the road at night, Susanna and Jeb insist on this part of the plan.
December 25 – 7:00am – The Johnston girls are in no hurry to wake up. They know that they will not see a single wrapped gift that morning. At about the same time, their father awakens and walks into the living room with his coffee. As he begins to sit down, he notices a bag outside the window. He assumes that someone just dumped some trash on his porch. He was not the most likeable person in the community.
Mr. Johnson goes outside, picks up the bag, and tosses it into the back of his pickup truck. Suddenly, he hears a loud, unusual noise as the bag lands. Out of curiosity, he turns around to see what is in the bag.
What happens next will never be forgotten. Mr. Johnston opens the bag and is shocked at the sight of multiple presents. He rushes to take the bag inside to place the presents under the tree before his family wakes up.
Thirty minutes later, the girls walk in. The expression on their faces cannot be described. They walk toward the tree and begin to open their presents.
It would be the best Christmas that the Johnston family will ever have.
Meanwhile, the Pickett family is having Christmas breakfast. It would difficult to determine which family was the happiest and most grateful on that Christmas Day.
As the years passed and the Pickett children started their own families, this Pickett Christmas tradition of sacrifice and giving survived.
2020 has been a challenging year. People are losing hope. In just a few days, many children will find no gifts under the tree.
But, we can make a difference. I humbly ask you to consider spreading the Pickett Christmas tradition throughout our community. By anonymously sponsoring a family for Christmas will change the way we treat each other during these volatile and uncertain times.