“Do you know why we give presents at Christmas?” I asked L., my foster child.
“So everybody can see our stuff.”
“Let’s try this again.”

I think Christmas is one of the toughest and most wonderful times to be a parent. It’s tough because everything around your kid is screaming the selfish “more, me, gimme.” It’s wonderful because there are so many opportunities to talk about Jesus.

Shopping with a 5-year-old child is tough. I generally avoid it whenever possible, jetting through the grocery store on my lunch break or picking up prescriptions right before I go to the daycare. But, surprisingly, shopping ended up being one of the ways L. and I counteracted materialism this Christmas.

A week before Christmas, we were to picking out gifts for Toys for Tots. With two $5 bills clutched in his hands, L. wandered around the colorful toy aisles. He finally decided on some toy cars.

“These toys are for kids who aren’t going to get Christmas,” L. explained to the other people in our checkout line. “Santa only checks his list twice, so he might have missed them.”

Before we could leave, the lady behind us in line grabbed a card game. She paid for it and gave it to L.

“This was one of my favorite games as a kid,” she told him. “Could you give this to the kids who aren’t going to get Christmas?”

“You know buddy, that lady did something nice because she saw you doing something nice, and it reminded her,” I told him on the way back to the car. “And I bet somebody heard her do that something nice, and it will remind them, too!”

“Yeah! And it will keep reminding and reminding until it reaches around the whole world!” he replied. “Except what if somebody accidentally talked to a tree?”

A few days later, on Christmas Eve, went to get special ingredients for a birthday cake for Jesus. I let L. choose, so Jesus ended up with blue icing, star sprinkles and star candles (to remind us about the star where Jesus was born).

After we lit the candles and sang “Happy Birthday,” L. was insistent that he wanted to give a piece of cake to Jesus; after all, it was His birthday.

“Remember, Jesus is in heaven, buddy, and we can’t take it to Him there,” I said.

“But He can come down. He can do anything!”

That’s when you send one of those quick, “help!” prayers. And God answered with Matthew 25:40.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

So I said, “You know what, buddy? In the Bible, Jesus says if we do something kind for somebody else, it’s like we’re doing that kind thing for Him! Let’s go take some of this cake to somebody who might need a little Christmas joy right now.”

That’s how we ended up at Fire Station 61 on Christmas Eve.

L. marched right in and said, “We brought some cake for you guys!”

After saying thank you, one of the firefighters looked at him and said, “Would you like to see my fire truck?” L. was so excited; he just didn’t know what to do and started running in place. The firefighter let him climb up in the truck and ask all kinds of questions (so many questions). We had tried to bless them, and they blessed us even more in return.