On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11
Today is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, without a doubt the most famous child in the history of mankind. Part of the celebration is, of course, the giving of gifts.
I could wax eloquently about the many gifts I am blessed with every day, which I truly appreciate. But instead I want to write about a very special gift we received a few weeks ago in our mailbox. A gift from an unknown child.
It was a homemade Christmas card, in a pre-stamped envelope all ready to be posted. No name, no nothing on the envelope – just the stamp.
Blank inside, it contained a note on a separate piece of paper, written by who I assume is the child’s mother. It said:
Now’s your chance
Spread the cheer
Send this card
To someone dear!
The card featured carefully cutout Christmas trees on the front decorated with sequins. I’m sure it took quite some time to make. And I bet we weren’t the only ones in the neighbourhood to receive this most wonderful, charming and unexpected gift.
I have my suspicions who made it. There’s a little boy who lives with his mother about six houses down on our street. They seem to be very down to earth, gentle people, from the few times I have spoken with them. It’s exactly the thing I would expect them to do.
Pause for a moment and realize what she is instilling in her child for life lessons. Care for others, selflessness, the joy that can come making others happy, the giving of one’s time as opposed to just money – and that you don’t need to seek pomp and attention when doing for others.
He's getting a great start in life, wouldn’t you say?
There’s two verses from the Book of Matthew that correspond with what I think that mother is teaching her child. I’m not needy, but you’ll get the point.
Matthew 6: 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I believe that giving of ourselves is one of the greatest things we have to give. And it’s probably the hardest. Most of us are too busy in the rush of modern life to do more than toss a few coins in a bucket in December and call it a day. But need is present the other 364 days as well.
On this day, more than any other, we should take the time to reflect on the non-material gifts we have been given, and appreciate them more than what is under the tree. After all, we’re celebrating the greatest gift of all: “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son…”
We should give, as we have been given, and expect nothing in return. Not just this time of year, but the whole year through. And it's never to late to start. I should heed my own advice.
I’ll close with the last lines of the Christmas classic by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol:”
"Many laughed to see this alteration in him [Scrooge], but he let them laugh and little heeded them, for he knew that no good thing in this world ever happened, at which some did not have their fill of laughter. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge."
Merry Christmas to you all.
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