The Day Christmas Changed Forever

Christmas is an emotional/reflective/joyful/blessed time of year for me. It makes me thankful for so many things, and makes me look at my life in a different way, counting all my blessings and naming them.

I'll never forget December 23, 2003. It was the day that Christmas changed for me. Forever. Or more the meaning of Christmas.

We had some family friends visiting us from Paraguay and I drove them to Abbotsford to visit some friends. I dropped them off and went to get my hair done and on my way back to pick them up I drove by a an accident scene that had literally happened seconds before I got there.

In the middle of the road was a man lying there, with blood around his head, not moving, his bicycle lying on it's side a few meters away from him, a blanket a few feet away from his bike, and his shoes strewn about. A few cars had pulled over and were just getting on the phone with 911 to call for help. I still have that picture engrained in my mind.

I couldn't help but start crying. I was scared for this man. Assumably homeless, based on the fact that he had a blanket and a few other things in his bicycle and his clothes were tattered. I feared he was dead.

I'm getting emotional and shaky thinking back to this time and just want to stop writing but I need to share this with you. So I'm going to push through...

That next day was Christmas Eve. I love Christmas Eve. That is the night that my family has always done all our celebrating and gift opening. We start the evening off by going to the Christmas Eve service together at our church. Then we go back to my parents place and turn on the fireplace, Christmas CD's and Christmas lights. Wine is poured into glasses and Cheepa (a south american cheesy, bread type of appetizer) is served. My dad starts the coals in the gazebo and we hang out in the living room, as a family- happy, full of joy and thankfulness. When the coals are hot my dad puts the steaks on the grill and we get the rest of the meal ready, usually eating around 9pm. After dinner we go back to the living room and take turns handing out our gifts to our loved ones and embracing their reactions as they reveal the gift they've just unwrapped. Then we toast the evening and Christ's birth with flutes of Asti Spumanti champagne, and this year we get to once again drink our champagne in the hot tub! Then we all stay over night and wake up together in the morning and open our stockings and have a big brunch together. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? It really is.

But on December 24, 2003 I could not enjoy our festivities. I could only think about that man who was hit by a car the day before. I could only think about the fact that he was, at best, spending Christmas in the hospital. Was anyone by his side? Was there anyone there to comfort him that night? Did anyone even know he was there, seeing as he could have very well been homeless and left with no family? And what if he had died? Had he known Christ? Had he known the fullness of life that he could have lived had he known the love and power of Jesus Christ?

That night during dinner I had to excuse myself. I couldn't enjoy it. I felt guilty for sitting around this massive dining room table with more than enough food to feed a small army and with people that had so much love and joy in their lives. But what about that man? He might not have anyone tonight. On such an important night. The night we celebrate our Saviours birth.

My life was changed that year. God spoke to me through that man like a truck running into a brick wall. Christ came to this earth and died for us and for everyone. For those of us that know Him and love Him and have accepted Him to be our personal Lord and Saviour, we are called to tell others about Him. Why was I keeping this amazing, life-changing God to myself? What am I doing today to share that life with others who might not know of Him yet? Christmas is not about us giving each other gifts and basking in the fullness of our own lives and our own rewards. It's about sharing that fullness with others.

I admit, I haven't done as much as I want to for others, especially around Christmas. But I'm going to. God has put this on my heart so much in the last few weeks and days that it's all I can think about. I'm not sure where He's calling me to help or to give, but I'm praying that He will make that clear to me. Yes, I want to be joyful and thankful for my family and all the blessings in my life, and it's good to do that, but I can't do that knowing that I haven't shared even an ounce of my blessings with someone who may not have any.

I hope that my husband and I can really get this point across to our daughter and future children. That Christmas isn't just about getting gifts, it's part of it, but ultimately it's about sharing God's love and sharing the blessings that we've had the privilege of receiving.

I don't know that I've worded this post properly or not. I just wrote from my heart. I'm not a great writer and I'm definitely not so good with words, but this is my heart. This is my calling. This is my Saviour.

You are loved. You have a purpose. You are not an accident and you have a reason for living. God knows you by name and he has chosen you. You are HIS.

Don't let this Christmas season go by without passing on blessings to others. If you have an extra scarf lying around, keep it in your purse as you walk to work and be open to giving it to someone you see who looks cold. The reward you get from giving to that one person will be more meaningful than any gift you might receive this Christmas.

That is my challenge for myself, and for you.


  1. What a great testimony to help the Christmas season get started!

    As a side note, I LOVE Cheepa! Did your Paraguayan friends make it, or do you have it every year? Can you get the right flour for it here?

  2. My parents are from South America so my mom makes it herself! She uses Tapioca flour which you can get at superstore even I think?? I can check with her if you want!

  3. Anonymous3.12.10

    Beautiful, thank you for sharing :)

  4. Thank you for your words, Vanessa! I just started reading your blog, but am loving it already! Its such a great reminder, especially as a Christian, to look at the real meaning of Christmas (as cliche as that sounds), but its so easy to forget! Thank you!!

  5. You're so very welcome. It's what's on my heart. and yes, it sounds cliche but it doesn't mean it's not true!

  6. Anonymous3.12.10

    Oh Banessi, thank you for sharing. My heart aches for those who don't have what we have at this time of year, and I dont just mean gifts - I mean a loving family, and I loved hearing about how you guys share Christmas, if all you can do is appreciate what you have, then at least that's something. When we were in Uganda a few years ago someone in our group said he would find it hard going back to his uni degree and his home and his comfortable job, and that he felt guilty about it. But our Ugandan guide told him that would be a waste of what he has - and this it was really important that he would go home and just appreciate those things more.
    This Christmas I look forward to hearing how God moves you to give to others, and I'm glad you've encouraged us to do the same, but also it's a beautiful thing that God has made you aware of what you do have and how blessed you are in that.
    love ya
    Heidi (Ozzie)

  7. thanks for sharing that Heidi! love you!


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