I’m a big reader. As a child, I had books hidden away everywhere—in the cushions of the couch, tucked under my brother’s car seat, and stuffed into my pillowcase.

So when I was about 10 years old, I decided I would buy every person in my family a book for Christmas. I pored over the Scholastic books order form and found books for my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I wrapped them and carefully placed them under the tree.

On Christmas Eve, when we exchange gifts with my extended family, I was so excited to watch everyone open their gifts.

There was one problem, though. Not everybody likes to read.

The adults were kind, even though I had given them children’s cookbooks and “chapter books.” But my cousins and siblings were a little more honest.

“Books?” one cousin mumbled. “What is this, homework?”

Looking back, it’s a funny memory. I can see that, in my passion, I forgot to think about the receiver. I didn’t consider what they wanted or what they enjoyed.

I thought of that story again this year as I was looking through this year’s Compassion Gift Catalog. As I folded down the corners of several pages, I challenged myself. I am passionate about Compassion. But was I pulling another “everyone gets a book” scenario?

But in the health section, I thought of my friend who is a pediatric nurse, and how much she would love that a malnourished child would be fed in her honor. My uncle, who grew up on a farm, would get a kick out of opening his Christmas card to see that I had given a chicken to a child in poverty in his honor. And my mother, who worked so hard as a single mom for the first years of my life, would understand the value of helping a mother learn to read and write.compassion-gift-catalog

But it doesn’t end there.

I know that Compassion will spend time and energy to find the perfect recipients for those gifts.

A child who has known the ache of hunger will sit down to a hot meal.

A chicken will lay enough eggs to be sold in the market, providing the money for a child’s first pair of new shoes.

And a mother will grip a pencil and write her name—and know that this is the beginning of a new life.

This Christmas, I hope you will find the same kind of joy in choosing the perfect gifts for your loved ones—and do so knowing that a child in poverty will experience the love of Jesus because you chose to give a gift in Jesus’ name.

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For more information about sponsoring a child with Compassion.