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Christmas Rip off

A loud knock on the door interrupted our play. We'd finished opening our presents, visiting our relatives, eating our Christmas dinner and were enjoying some time with our preschool children. "Hello, can I help you?" I asked. "Yes," she said with a tone of desperation, "your next door neighbor told me you were a Pastor--my car broke down; can I borrow your phone?" I looked down and saw her small daughter and invited them in.

"Have you eaten anything tonight?" Susan asked the little girl as her mother used the phone. "Not yet." She replied. Susan walked with her into the kitchen and got her a plate of leftovers.

Too bad, I thought, this is a terrible way for this little girl to be spending Christmas. The mother came back in the room with a look of disappointment. "What's wrong?" I asked. "The towing company won't take a check to haul my car to the mechanic and I don't have any cash."

She sat down.

I didn't know what to do. After about 30 minutes of awkward small talk, in the spirit of Christmas, I offered to help. We drove to the bank, I used my ATM card to take out $200.00, combined it with some money we had in the house, and cashed her pay check. I drove her and her daughter to where the car was supposed to be. It wasn't there. "I thought that was where it broke down," she said. We searched for the car until late into the night. "Just drop me off at my friends house in Coachella," she said, "he will help me find it tomorrow."

I did.

The check bounced. It turns out she stole some checks from a local business and forged the owner's name. We were ripped off on Christmas Day.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. The scam I fell prey to is nothing compared to what our culture is allowing-the ultimate Christmas rip off--taking Christ out of CHRISTmas.


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