The gift

As we approach Christmas most of us are focused on the gifts we will give and the gifts we will receive. Years ago, I did an exercise with one of my first grade classes about gifts.

I told them to imagine that they could only have one gift that year. They were to draw a picture of what they would choose. At first, they were confused. Some found it difficult to focus on just one gift. They kept asking me if they could choose more than one. My reply was there could only be one.

After a very thoughtful time they each came up with something. What they came up with was nothing but astounding. Some chose something for someone else. Some chose a gift for someone they did not know. One little girl chose a pretty Christmas dress. The choices were as varied as the children. I stand by that exercise in that it really made them think about what was important to them. Some of them chose to make something for the person they chose.

Why is it that we think of what we will get? Why not focus on what we will give? There is so much pleasure in the giving of something to someone. The gift I will always remember giving was a pin that I picked out for my grandma. It had stones that picked up all colors. I remember that it cost more than I allotted for my grandma’s gift, but I bought it anyway and made things work out. Today I have that pin. I recently had it repaired because I enjoy wearing it.

Several years ago, our family changed how we celebrate Christmas. It was after my daughter found a co-worker choosing a gift to give to his granddaughter I believe. We draw a name, then purchase three gifts for someone. One gift must be something to wear. One gift must be something that person likes to eat. The third gift may be anything. We have had a lot of fun with this. We all open the same gift at the same time. It is fun to see what someone else picked for you in all of the categories.

It has made shopping simpler since I only have to buy and wrap gifts for one person. I can purchase things any time during the year because I know who I have.

The real gift of Christmas is the birth of our Savior. Without his entry into the world as a baby there would be no salvation. I remember having a discussion with one of our pastors about the most important event. He maintained it was Easter and the resurrection. I at the time favored Christmas and the birth. Now years later I must admit he was right. While Jesus could not have died if he had never been born, it is the death and resurrection that allows us to dwell in Heaven.

I look forward to that gift.

I found a poem by Edgar Guest about Christmas that I wish to share with you. It is not his only Christmas poem, but it is my favorite. I think it must have been one of my mother’s favorites, too, because I found a typed version inserted in one of the books that I brought home from her house nineteen years ago.

Christmas as Told by Luke

Said the shepherds to Joseph: “Tonight in the field

A vision from Heaven to us is revealed.

We have followed a star which to Bethlehem led.

Behold now how brightly it shines overhead!

It was told us by angels a King has been born

Who should lie in a manger this first Holy Morn.

Arise and go seek him, with this for a sign.

His mother on stable straw now doth recline.

The Babe is in swaddling clothes, bleak is the place,

But holiness gleams in the Little One’s face.”

And they went in with Joseph and saw it was true,

And told them the tale of their vision anew.

There were those in the stable who could not believe

What the shepherds related that first Christmas Eve,

But all that was said, ere they turned to depart,

Mary kept to herself, pondering it in her heart.

And the shepherds went back to their flocks deeply stirred,

Praising God for the things they had seen and had heard.

As you celebrate Christmas remember the message of the star and the shepherds. Jesus was born to be our Savior.

Merry Christmas to all!