True Living at Christmas: The Best Gifts


December Series: True Living at Christmas
Part 1 of 4 – The Best Gifts

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! —2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

When our girls were young, I worked hard to find fun gifts for them at Christmas. We also worked hard to explain why we give gifts at Christmas so they understood the celebration. We did this in several unique ways. First of all, we placed a “touchable” nativity set under the Christmas tree all by itself. The star above shone down on the manger scene below. “Look,” I would whisper to our daughters as we sprawled on our tummies under the tree lights playing with donkeys and sheep and baby Jesus, “This little baby—Jesus—is the best gift ever.” As they grew older, I elaborated. But always, to this day, all that is under our tree until the night before Christmas is the nativity—so that we remember God’s indescribable gift of grace to us in giving us His Son, offered up as a recipient of the punishment we deserve so we are freed from death and destruction ourselves. That’s the very short version, of course!

We wanted our girls to know that the reason we give gifts and celebrate is so that we all remember God’s greatest gift. As I reflect back on the years of giving and Christmases long past, here are the gifts I remember most.

The pearl earrings. It was mid-December and still a couple of weeks until Christmas Day, but it was the day before my husband, Ray, was due to leave with his battalion for Saudi Arabia and the soon-to-follow Persian Gulf War. I was a young mom of two, and we had just moved to Germany that fall—far from family and all that was familiar. Ray was working just about round the clock in preparation, and we had hardly seen each other. He was given permission to attend church on Sundays and would sit beside us in his uniform and then back to work he’d go. How he found time to buy me pearl earrings I will never know. But he did. And I wept. Not so much because of the pearls, but because of the gift of time and thought they represented. I still love those pearl earrings—and I am very grateful that the man who gave them to me the night before he left for war returned safely to me.

The Chapstick. Ah yes. The year of the Chapstick. We were living in New York at the time, and I had saved and scrounged to afford an elaborate Fisher-Price kitchen set I was just sure our girls would love. It had a stove. It had a sink. Places to store dishes. I was all excited to play with it myself. Confidently, at the end of a happy Christmas Day, I asked the girls as I tucked them in, “What was your very favorite Christmas present?” I smiled, waiting for the answer I was sure I would hear. I mean. That kitchen playset was amazing. In unison, they shouted out in their preschool voices, “The Chapstick!!” Wait. What? They loved the little tubes of Chapstick in their stockings … best?! Oh, how I laughed about that later. Sometimes it’s the little things.

The donuts. Long ago and far away, I was a little girl bouncing around without seatbelts in the back of a station wagon with my siblings on my way to Maine to spend Christmas with my grandparents and family. We arrived Christmas Eve. Our suitcases, attached to the top of the wagon, were taken down and our pajamas were draped over chairs near the fireplace at my grandparents’ home. They needed to thaw out before my siblings and I donned them and went to bed. My grandmother cooked on an old black iron wood stove and out of that stove came piping hot homemade donuts on that cold December night. What a gift that memory still is to me! Feeling all warm and excited about Christmas, eating hot donuts and anticipating the morrow. Memories are gifts.So. As we all do our Christmas shopping and seek the perfect gifts within budget this season, let’s remember. Some of the greatest gifts we give are memories of being present. Our families will draw strength from them in times ahead. Sometimes simple gifts like Chapstick resonate more than elaborate ones. And sometimes the very act of buying a gift is a present in and of itself. Woven throughout the celebrations and the unwrappings of “things” should always be the sure and certain joy of knowing that God loved us enough to gift us with His Son. The ultimate and best … the most indescribably momentous gift of all. Thanks be to God.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son. Thank You for a season when we celebrate Your selfless giving. You gave to the point of death and endured separation, pain, and anguish so that we might be given eternal life with You. God in Heaven, we thank You for this indescribable gift! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

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