But the good news is that, right along with these frigid conditions, there has now come the first white Christmas here since 2010! And what a beautiful Christmas it is! Everywhere the human eye beholds, a gorgeous blanket of fresh white snow has been deposited. The fields, the yards, the woods, the barns, the houses, even the driveways and roads all look like some majestic scene painted by the hand of Almighty God! The human heart rejoices at the mere sight of it all!
It has truly been a beautiful gift sent down from above right here at Christmas - one which we were truly blessed to receive. To be sure, our Christmas would have been fine without it. Just as we have done the previous nine years, we could have gotten along just as well without it this year. Nonetheless, the sudden, stunning snowfall was still an added bonus that only served to enhance and enrich our experience of this wonderful time of year.
Sadly, though, not everyone received such a gift from above this Christmas. In fact, most of the United States did without a white Christmas. And a few did without certain other gifts from somewhere up above them this year as well.
Consider the story reported in a Fox business News website article titled “GoDaddy Tests Employees with Phishing Email Promising Christmas Bonuses: Report”, a lump of coal might just as well have been delivered to nearly 500 of its employees of the Arizona-based internet domain behemoth, GoDaddy.
Suffice it to say that the whole thing did not go over very well. In fact, the executives over at GoDaddy most likely wish it had never even occurred. But occur it did. And it’s kind of hard to undo it all now.
On December 14th of this year, it seems employees were sent an email promising a Christmas bonus — that turned out to actually be a computer security test. In response, some 500 staffers clicked on the company generated email that purportedly offered a $650 holiday bonus for filling out a form with their personal information.
The email reportedly began with these eye-catching words: “Happy Holiday GoDaddy! 2020 has been a record year for GoDaddy, thanks to you!” Continuing on, it read: “Though we cannot celebrate together during our annual Holiday Party, we want to show our appreciation and share a $650 one-time Holiday bonus!”
Much to their chagrin, two days later, the employees got an email from GoDaddy’s security chief that read: “You are receiving this email because you failed our recent phishing test.”
Needless to say, a huge social media outcry ensued. Users raked GoDaddy’s executives over the coals, calling the test especially “tone-deaf amid the coronavirus pandemic that’s left millions of Americans financially reeling”.
In response, all the company had to offer was an apology to anyone who felt the email was “insensitive,” adding it “takes the security of our platform extremely seriously.” “We understand some employees were upset by the phishing attempt and felt it was insensitive, for which we have apologized,” read a statement issued by a company spokesman.
As I reflected on this article, I was first of all grateful that the various churches I was privileged to serve down through the years always seemed to find a way to give out bonuses to their staff at Christmas time. This was especially true when my wife and I were younger with small children, and almost always stressed to as we stretched our income to cover our expenses. The added expense of Christmas shopping could often be a tremendous burden on the household budget.
That is not to say that Christmas bonuses were always forthcoming. And the truth is that there were lean times when bonuses were not given, and my wife and I simply had to make do. Many of my readers likely also experienced a similar disappointment or two at some point or another along the way. But even when these times came, we were never deceitfully treated by the churches we served. At least they were forthright and told us up front.
It can be very painful when employees are flippantly treated otherwise. Invariably, most all employees will have had that “Clark Griswold” moment at least once, where they had perhaps counted on a bonus that they never got, sometimes even without explanation. No doubt 2020 will now go down as just such a year for the employees at GoDaddy. And this will only be made all the more unbearable if the email was truthful when it stated that 2020 has been “a record year for GoDaddy” all thanks to its employees!
It was for these reasons, as I progressed from part-time to full time, and then from support staff positions to senior staff positions, I felt compelled to be sensitive to such matters, and did my best down throughout the years to work with Personnel and Stewardship Teams in order to ensure Christmas bonuses to all church staff members. When one manages people, he or she quickly learns that it is far more blessed to give, especially at Christmas time, than to receive.
I am not just thankful that the churches I was blessed to serve never treated me wrong. I am also thankful that God Himself has never done so. Like the truly loving Heavenly Father He is, He may not have always given me the things I might have desired, but He has most assuredly never deceived me, nor has He ever made me feel unappreciated and unvalued. In fact, the blessings He has chosen to bestow on me have always been supernal to my needs.
To tie all of this together, I have been reminded this week of just how good God has been to me and my family. I have also been reminded, in turn, that I am called to be a channel of blessings to others. I hope that all those whom I have encountered this Christmas season will have found in me an added blessing and not an added disappointment.
As I do, I pray that I will always remember the importance of providing a little added joy to others around me at this time of year. After all, who among us does not need and appreciate receiving just such a little bonus at Christmas?!