Where can we find the perfect gift?
During this special season many of us spend time searching for perfect gifts for our loved ones. We fret over sizes and styles and suitable items; but when the season is over, we often re-gift the items we’ve received.
According to a children’s song by Ellen Woods Bryce, “The Perfect Gift” can’t be found in a store, and it can’t be bought.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above.” –James 1:17In the song “The Little Drummer Boy,” written by Katherine K. David, Henry Onorati, and Harry Simeone, a young musician is told he must lay his finest gift before the newborn King. The poor boy laments that he has no gift to bring, but he offers to play a simple song on his drum. This song, played from the heart, brings a smile to the baby’s face. The song costs nothing, but it is a perfect gift.
Several years ago I received a perfect gift from my nephew. As a starving artist, he didn’t have extra money to buy a gift, but he spent time writing a beautiful song for me. The song cost nothing, but his time and his talent and his thoughtfulness were invaluable.
I remember another Christmas almost thirty years ago when my aunt and uncle gifted me with tulip bulbs. They not only spent time digging up spare bulbs from their own yard, but they also planted them in my yard for me. All these years later I continue to enjoy this perfect gift every spring.
These gifts of love can and always should be re-gifted.
Michelle Medlock Adams’ alphabet story C Is for Christmas reminds us that Jesus is the reason for the season. “At Christmas we send packages to all our special friends. But, Jesus is the greatest gift, the gift that never ends.”
God gave us the perfect gift when He sent His son to save the world. All we have to do is give Him our hearts.
I wrote the following story based on true events revolving around a Christmas program at my church. It first appeared in the anthology Celebrating Christmas with . . . Memories, Poetry, and Good Food, published by Hidden Brook Press in 2011.
The value of a flashy gold jewelry box, $20
The value of an innocent child’s wisdom, Priceless
The children had been rehearsing for the church Christmas pageant since October, and everyone appeared ready to present a great performance of “The Perfect Gift.” On the morning of the performance, Jeremy’s mom frantically cornered Miss Debbie before Sunday school and told her she would need to find a substitute wise man. Jeremy had been throwing up since early that morning, and he was also running a low grade fever. He would not be able to play his role as one of the three wise men.
Miss Debbie’s brain quickly started searching for a substitute. Her three-year-old son Jason had attended every rehearsal. It was a stretch, but maybe Jason could play the part. He had been singing all the songs for the last month, and the wise man had only one line to say. This might work.
That afternoon Miss Debbie shortened Jason’s nap and shared with him the good news that he would be playing one of the wise men in the church pageant that night. She called his two older brothers into the den to help with a quick rehearsal. After a short eye-rolling session, they agreed to help.
Jason not only carried his gift with a regal air, but he also said his line on cue: “I bwing you gold!”
Satisfied that Jason appeared ready to make his acting debut and that the night’s performance would go as well as could be expected, Miss Debbie dismissed her two older boys to play in the backyard while she showed Jason how to march in his bathrobe.
That evening the shortest wise man could not be seen by everyone in the church, but his mom was proud and knew he would be a good pinch hitter. As the march of the kings’ music cued their entrance, the assistant director handed each of the three kings his gift and pointed to center stage where they were to face the audience and sing their song.
Jason’s gift was an old jewelry box that had been spray painted gold and embellished with a few fake jewels. It was not the book he had used in practice earlier that afternoon. The three-year-old immediately became entranced by the gift he was holding. As the other two wise men sang their song, Jason focused all his attention on examining his box and, with great effort, trying to open its clasp.
When the song ended, the wise men were supposed to lay their gifts beside the sleeping baby Jesus and then say their lines. Following Miss Debbie’s whispered directions, the other two wise men presented their gifts and proclaimed their purposes. Jason, in the meantime, had finally succeeded in opening the clasp on his box when he cried out, “I can’t bwing any gold. My box is empty!”
After the laughter died down and the wise men were joined by the rest of the cast to sing their finale, the children received a standing ovation. Many people made comments like, “That’s the best program they’ve ever done,” and “Wasn’t that littlest wise man the cutest thing?” Miss Debbie herself was beaming with pride for her three-year-old wise man.
Even though Jason was momentarily distracted by the shiny box he was holding and by its jeweled façade, his epiphany was a lesson to us all that we should not focus our attention on the shiny material things in life. If we do, we will find there is no real gold inside the box. Our lives will be empty if we focus all our energies on the things money can buy.
As you think about gifts this year, don’t worry about size or style or suitability. Consider a gift that money can’t buy.
So where can you find the perfect gift this Christmas? Try looking in a manger. Then look inside your own heart as you reflect upon the words of the song “In the Bleak Midwinter.”
“If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” –George Macdonald
Luke 2; John 3:16