In These Christmas Stories, Two Little Boys Show Us How To Give
Two Little Boys and Their Christmas Stories
11-year-old Brenden Foster of Bothell, Washington, had leukemia, and just a few weeks more to live. On the way home from a clinic appointment, he saw a group of homeless people, figured they must be hungry, and decided he wanted to help.
He didn’t have the strength to go feed them himself, but to help them became his dying wish.
His love inspired others. Soon volunteers had handed out 200 homemade sandwiches to the homeless in Seattle on his behalf.
“He’s caused an avalanche of love and support,” said Shelley Rotondo, executive director of Northwest Harvest, a food bank that received donations on Brenden’s behalf and passed them on needy children, seniors, and others.
Just days later, people all over the country and beyond had heard about Brenden’s wish, and many rallied to carry it out wherever they were. In his name they organized food drives, gathered truckloads of food, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for food for the hungry from Florida to Ohio to California.
“Live life to the Fullest.”
Shortly before he died in his mother’s arms on Friday, November 22, 2008, Brendan expressed his amazement that one young boy could make such a difference.
Wise beyond his years, Brenden answered a reporter’s questions:
What made him sad? “When someone gives up.”
His message to other children? “Live life to the fullest.”
“Follow your dream. Don’t let anything stop you,” Brenden implored. He wants to continue helping people even after he leaves this world. He said he hopes to become an angel and accomplish more from Heaven than he did on earth.
Something to Be Thankful For
If you ever have a hard time thinking of something to be thankful for, why not try remembering Brenden? When asked what he felt the best things about life are, he responded, “Just having one.” And he’d been struggling with leukemia for 3 years! “I had a great time, and until it’s time--[until] my time is come--I’m gonna keep having a good time,” he added, just days before his time came.
"He made my dream come true. In my lifetime, I wanted to change the world and my son did that," said his mother Wendy. "The world is such a beautiful place and [that became] evident the last 72 hours, and Brenden did that."
Brenden's message and attitude sowed enthusiasm far and wide. Daniel Chairez, also battling leukemia, explained how it has affected him: "He really inspired me because he's not afraid, and he wants to help people, and he's not selfish," 12-year-old Daniel said. He wants to take up the torch and help the homeless, too.
“He left a legacy,” Wendy mused, “just by making a wish and speaking his mind.”
Misha's Christmas Story
As you’ll read in the following account, one of our favorite Christmas stories (which as far as we know is true, though we haven’t been able to find its author’s name), little Misha, too, found a way to give.
Two Babes in a Manger
Author unknown In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on Biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. The Americans relate the following Christmas story: It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear the traditional Christmas story for the first time. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the Christmas story, the children and orphanage staff sat and listened in amazement. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old, and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately-until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told Him I have no mama and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with Him. But I told Him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give Him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe that if I kept Him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep You warm, will that be a good enough gift?' "And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep Me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave Me.' "So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and He told me I could stay with Him--for always." As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found Someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, Someone who would stay with him--for always.
And that is what the Christmas story is all about.
One gave nourishment, the other warmth. These were their gifts.
Nourishment and warmth—what deep and timeless expressions of love!
The nourishment Brenden gave to the hungry and homeless nourishes compassion in our hearts; the warmth Misha gave to the little Baby in the manger warms our hearts still.
The very simplicity of their gifts teaches us.
The wisdom of their gifts flowed from tender hearts who felt another’s need, even when they themselves were needy.