Matthew 2:10-11 – When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (NIV)
The ribbon is off, drooping on my lap. The tag says, "To Iris with love from Santa." I jot it down on my list. Then I tear into the box, another box, another box, smaller and smaller. Finally I open a wrapped gift, but there is another, and another. Santa has a sense of humour! Thank goodness I am almost an adult, not a child impatient to get inside and see what it holds. Yes, it was a birthday ring, tiny and exquisite. I was twelve that year and that was the first Christmas I didn't receive one toy to play with, just a hairbrush and a ring. Oh dear! I was grown up. Or was I? What do children want at Christmas? What do adults want?
There was another, earlier Christmas I remember well. I peeked into the living room early, around 5:00 a.m., awakened by the Salvation Army band. It was playing, "While shepherds watched their flocks by night" outside on the street (a lovely tradition back then in Bermuda). Two doll cribs stood under the tree, shining in the moonlight, one for my sister and one for me. It was wartime and dad had laboured long and hard cutting down a baby crib for our dolls.
It is strange, but I remember certain childhood gifts much better than those given me during adulthood. The earliest gift I remember was a white zippered Bible sticking out of my Christmas stocking, placed at the foot of my bed for curious, inquisitive hands.
Let us give a child a present that lasts for a lifetime of memories: a Bible, a gift made with loving care, a ring to usher in adulthood. Those were all lovingly wrapped for me by the Spirit of Christ through dad and mom's hands. Those I will never forget!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us wrap our gifts this Christmas with your love. Use our hands to reach out to family and neighbour, to the poor and those who have no home. May we give others a precious gift long to be remembered — a gift that comes from you. We pray in Jesus' name, for Jesus is your gift to us, a present that lasts to eternity. Amen.