I was seven years old. The Christmas tree was up and lit, gifts wrapped and placed under its branches. Mother and I were enjoying the beauty.
“Can we open our presents?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” she answered. “We have to wait until daddy and your brother come home.”
So I sat on the couch to wait and fell asleep. When I awoke, the tree lights were off and most of the gifts were missing from under the tree. The room seemed dark and cold. No brother. No daddy. What happened?
“We’ve opened our gifts,” Mother said, smiling. “You were asleep.”
I sat on the couch, dazed. In my mind I could see them around the tree smiling, laughing, and opening their gifts. Happy without me.
Mother picked up a doll from under the tree and brought it to me. “Look, you got a doll,” she said, a happy excited expression on her face.
I didn’t care about that doll. Mother laid it beside me when I didn’t reach for it. And I didn’t care about the other gifts she laid beside me. She had refused to let me open gifts without daddy and my five-year-old brother, but they could opened gifts without me. They wanted to open gifts without me.
I outgrew that feeling because Mother and Dad truly loved us. They grew up in large families and very poor. They blessed us with a better life than they had had.
But, I learned an important lesson on my seventh Christmas. Never let anyone feel left out. Engage the lonely in conversation. Let people know they’re important. Be an encourager. By doing that, you are never lonely or left out yourself.