Josh Byers


Writing about books, culture, ministry, design and my family

A Christmas Story

There are many memorable moments during the Christmas season. FYI, that season begins around Thanksgiving and continues through New Years (and is the reason why you can start to listen to Christmas music in November and leave lights up till January), but I digress.

This year I had the opportunity to participate in Angel Tree again directly. Angel Tree is a ministry that allows parents in prison to send presents to their kids. Churches often facilitate this ministry by having individuals purchase and deliver the gifts to the kids for the parent in prison.

Some years ago when I was helping to lead the student ministry at Saylorville Church, we participated almost every year. It was amazing to take a bunch of students into homes and hand deliver these gifts. It was a profound experience that never leaves you.
So when the coordinator of the ministry at our church mentioned that she needed someone to deliver some gifts to family near our house, I jumped at the opportunity.

Not knowing the situation I was hesitant to bring our younger children as I didn't want them to be disruptive but I wanted to share the experience with one of my kids. In the end, I ended up taking my nine-year-old son.

The home was only a couple minutes from ours, and we had planned to be there around 5:30 in the evening. You would think I would be familiar with my city, but I missed the entrance to the place and had to turn around. While we were making our way back, I received a text from the mom of the child asking if we were still planning on coming. It was 5:31. 

In that one text, I could see a long line of broken promises this mother has had to explain. Having already told her little boy that he was getting presents, she was nervous about being forgotten yet again. I immediately texted back to let her know that we had just arrived.

As we got out of the van, there was a peaceful silence in the night that only seems to happen around Christmas. While the air was cold, and we could see our breath, the soft glow of twinkling lights around the neighborhood spoke a warm welcome. We walked up to the building, and I handed my son the gifts to carry as I looked for the correct number on the apartment doors.

When we knocked and walked in, an overly excited six-year-old boy greeted us and couldn't wait to show us his tree, his stocking, the stocking for his baby brother and other things he had made.
I made small talk with his mother as he excitedly opened his gifts.
A couple of times I stole a glance at Jace who was taking it all in. There was a look of wonder on his face I'm not sure if I've seen before.

It was all over pretty quickly. I told them about our church, invited them to visit and left a very excited boy playing with his new toys.

As we walked back out to our van to go home, my son took my hand, looked up and said. "That was a lot of fun." I smiled back at him and nodded.

It was already a memorable moment for us both, but when we pulled into the garage, Jace piped up from the back seat and perfectly explained the spirit of Christmas. "Dad, I don't know why but that just made my heart really happy. It felt really good." 

I knew why. It's because giving always feels better than getting. I mentioned that, looked down at him and smiled.

β€œIt makes my heart feel good too buddy."

This was first published on

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash