THE GOLD WRAPPING PAPER
Once upon a time, a man punished his five-year-old daughter for using up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper before Christmas.
Money was tight, so he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve, he saw that the child had used the expensive gold paper to decorate a large shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree.
Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"
As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.
But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something inside the package!"
The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."
The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.
An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us as human beings have been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God.
There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
A TOUCHING CHRISTMAS STORY
I hurried into the local department store to grab some last minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kinda wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I kind of mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys. And wondered if the grandkids would even play with them.
I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy about 5 holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman and he called his aunt by name and said, “Are you sure I don’t have enough money” She replied a bit impatiently, “You know that you don’t have enough money for it. The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle. The boy continued to hold the doll.
After a bit I asked the boy who the doll was for. He said, “It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it.” I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said “No, Santa can’t go where my sister is…I have to give the doll to my Momma to take to her”. I asked him where his sister was.
He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said “She has gone to be with Jesus”. My Daddy says that Momma is going to have to go be with her. My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, “I told my Daddy to tell Momma not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store”. Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he’d had taken at the front of the store. He said “I want my Momma to take this with her so she doesn’t ever forget me.” “I love my Momma so very much and I wish she did not have to leave me”. “But Daddy says she will need to be with my sister.”
I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, “Shall we count that money one more time?” He grew excited and said “Yes, I just know it has to be enough”. So I slipped my money in with his and we began to count it.
Of course it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, “Thank you Jesus for giving me enough money.” Then the boy said “I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll so Momma can take it with her to give to my sister.” “And he heard my prayer”. “I wanted to ask him for enough to buy my Momma a white rose, but I didn’t ask him, but he gave me enough to buy the doll and a rose for my Momma.” “She loves white roses so very very much”.
In a few minutes the aunt came back and I wheeled my cart away. I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started. And I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and the Mother was in serious condition. The family was deciding on rather to remove the life support. Now surely this little boy did not belong with that story.
Two days later I read in the paper where the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I could not forget the little boy and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected. Later that day, I could not help myself and I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was. And there she was holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store.
I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. And in a split second a drunk driver had ripped the life of that little boy to pieces. “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
A WARM WOOL BLANKET
At the age of 82, my mother went to heaven on May 22 of this year. For all my 47 years, I spent Christmas with Mom back in our hometown in upstate New York, even the last nine while I’ve been a California resident. This first Christmas without her will be a sad one, but one made more tender by a loving act of kindness.
Yesterday I got a slip in my mailbox to pick up a package at the post office. From the zip code listed, I thought the parcel was from a particular friend who lives near my hometown. Was I surprised to find that it was actually from the manager of the senior citizens’ apartment complex where my mother had lived. He had been very kind to us during my mother’s illness, and here was an unexpected present from him and his wife, whom I had met only once.
Of all the thoughtful gestures extended to me immediately following my mother’s death, theirs had really touched me. When I opened by mother’s apartment and invited her neighbors in to see if there was anything they wanted, the manager’s wife came. It is the only time I’ve ever seen her. She picked up a few things that day and told me to stop by for dinner if I was ever back in the area.
A couple days later, when I was leaving Mom’s apartment for the last time, the manager came out to my car to hug me, and he told me that one of the things his wife picked up was an angel ornament my mother had. Instead of using the ornament at their home, they decided that each year they would put the angel on the Christmas tree in the rec room of the apartment complex to remember my mother. The thought was so sweet that I burst into tears on the sidewalk.
Well… I opened their package this morning and first read the card. It says Mom’s angel ornament has a special place near the top of the rec room’s tree. That was enough to start the tears. But then they explained that the present was a stuffed gingerbread man that the wife made by hand … and that the material used to make the gingerbread man’s scarf and sack came from my mother’s blanket — another item selected by the wife after Mom’s passing. My eyes were flooded with tears as I opened this precious gift and saw the familiar green and white striped blanket.
It was an incredibly durable wool blanket that we had since I was a kid. It is the one and only blanket I specifically remember because of the stripes. And… when my ill mother was going through repeated, alternating periods of high fevers and chills in April and May of this year, she asked me to dig that blanket out of the closet. Even though she was piled high with sheets, blankets, and comforters, she was convinced that ultra-warm wool blanket would stop the extreme and intense chills.
Without knowing the significance of that particular wool blanket, how totally lovely and appropriate that a “stranger” picked that material to make me something so special for this first Christmas. I can’t wait to tell her how much warmth has been provided by her thoughtfulness and those familiar green and white stripes.
THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. “What are you doing?” I started to ask him.
The words choked in my throat, as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement, TEACH THE CHILDREN! I was puzzled: What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.
As I stood there bewildered, Santa said, Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that a now-a-day Christmas has forgotten!
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it on the mantle. Teach the Children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven.
He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. Teach the Children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of that promise.
He then reached into the bag and pulled out a CANDLE. Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.
Once again he reached into his bag and then removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. Teach the Children that the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.
He then pulled out from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.
He reached in again and pulled out a HOLLY LEAF. Teach the Children the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent blood shed by Him.
Next he pulled out a GIFT from the bag and said, “Teach the Children that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the Children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We should give gifts in the same spirit as the wise men.”
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. Teach the Children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the shepherd’s staff helps bring back strayed sheep from the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother’s keeper.
He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. Teach the Children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. The angels sang ‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace and good will.’
Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. Teach the Children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of a bell, it should bring people to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.
Santa looked at the tree and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, “Remember, teach the Children the true meaning of Christmas, and not to put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One who is, and I bow down and worship Him, our Lord, our God.”