Ever since our five boys have been old enough to walk, they have had a basketball in their hands. Ok, let’s be honest, probably since before they were old enough to walk. Whether it was playing with the Little Tikes hoop that stood in the living room, the Nerf one that hung over the door, the one attached to the wall in the basement, the hoop in the driveway, or eventually the gym, the game of basketball has been something that has kept our family busy for over thirty years. For Todd (my husband) in particular, it has been a wonderful way of bonding with the boys. Whether it has been watching the boy’s games or discussing them over meals, it has always been one of the highlights of him being a dad.


About fifteen years ago, our weeks consisted of going to the high school, middle school, and elementary games of the younger four boys, while also making trips across the state to watch our oldest, Stephen, play in his college games. (I refer to those years as our “crazy years”, but that is another story.) When Stephen, finished up his college basketball career and headed oversees to play professionally, Todd had a void, mainly in his heart. He had never been unable to watch Stephen play. He had never been unable to sit down with him and rehash the game. Whether their conversations discussed highlights, disappointments, or included hope and encouragement for the next game, the discussions were had. Now with Stephen an ocean away, in a different time zone, Todd’s heart would long for those special conversations, ones that connected a father and his son.


But then it happened. One night at 8:15 pm...2:15 am in Europe, our phone rang. The caller ID showed it was Stephen. My heart skipped a beat. What has happened? Why is Stephen calling home in the middle of the night? Would it be Stephen on the line when I answer or someone calling to tell me there was an accident? It is surprising how many scenarios can go through a mom’s head as she prepares to press the answer button. But press I did. I was quickly relieved when I said hello, heard his cheerful voice, and then with a tear in my eye, handed the phone to Todd. “Honey”, I said, “your son wants to talk to you about the game.”


You see, after his game finished, Stephen traveled four hours on a bus back to his apartment. And then, regardless of the fact that it was 2:15 in the morning, he picked up the phone and called his dad…to talk about the game.


From that point on, the phone would ring after Stephen’s games. I would joyfully hand the phone over to Todd, and they would talk just as they did when he played all those years before. The joy in my husband’s eyes was evident, and although I couldn’t see it, I knew the same joy was in my son’s eyes, a continent way, reliving a game they both loved, with person who loved the game with them. The phone calls were a gift. I’m just not sure any of us know who the giver was and who the recipient was. I suppose it’s because they both felt as if they had received a gift…the gift of a relationship with one another.


As we continue with our holiday preparations, I challenge each of us to look around and see whom we could bless with the gift of a phone call, a hand written note, or even a visit. This time of year is often difficult for people. There are those who have lost loved ones this year, who have an empty place at their table. There are those who have lost jobs. Some who don’t have relationships with their family members. Some who are battling physical illness. Others who are dealing with depression and anxiety. Some who have marriages falling apart. The list of needs goes on. And we have the opportunity to make a difference. We can ask God to bring someone to our mind right now, someone who needs some hope during this Christmas season. When He does bring that someone to mind, I challenge you to act on His direction. Make that phone call. Write that card. Go for that visit. I can confidently say that when we choose to give those types of gifts, we will find ourselves being the recipients. We will be the recipients of a full heart….one filled with compassion. With hope. With peace. With love. With a heart filled with the true meaning of the holiday. A heart filled with all that our Lord and Savior provides.


© Misty Cramer 12-2019

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