The Best Christmas Gift

This is the 15th and final of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys. Come back Monday for our summer series as we trace the life of the Apostle Paul. But first, another Christmas story …

Another Christmas has quickly passed. As always, over and over we hear the “Christian Christmas Warning” – WARNING: Forgetting the reason for the season may be hazardous to your spiritual health!

Come on, I thought; play a new tune. But I must admit, when it comes to the boys, I worry about their perceptions and life-long memories of the content of our Christmas celebrations.

At home we try various means of getting the boys to think bigger than simply about boxes under a tree. We had devotions with an advent wreath and Christmas tree. Our emphasis was continually upon giving and giving and serving and helping and singing and more giving, etc. All of this emphasis requires time – lots of time for shopping and making crafts and baking cookies. Diana does most of this with the kids, but as always, I have to take them for the annual “let’s buy mommy some presents” Christmas shopping marathon.

We safely arrived at the Palmer Mall and got into the store without anyone bouncing off a car in the parking lot. Forming a human chain, we weaved our way through the thousands of shoppers to the housewares department in hopes of finding something that Diana does not already possess. Finally at our destination, the boys looked at me and said, “Daddy, we’ve got to go to the bathroom—badly!” What could I do? So off we went, through the store, out into the mall in search of the elusive men’s room. Finding it, using it, and returning from it too over 30 minutes of valuable shopping time.

At last, back in the department shore’s housewares section we started our search. Seconds later my attention was grabbed by Benjamin’s cries of pain. He was walking behind me with his head down, not looking where he was going, and ran into the corner of a shelf. Well, you know how kids’ heads bleed, and you know what color Ben’s hair is. What a mess! After soaking several tissues we were able to commence our search and return home without further incident. I just love Christmas shopping.

As I said, singing is a big part of our Christmas efforts. We have sung a lot as a family and the kids worked hard on learning the Children’s Choir musical. Aaron learned the entire composition and can even quote all of the speaking parts. He sat in the front row with us when the program was presented and sang the entire thing with the choir. Nathan was confident as well. He said, “If Heath would get sick, Karen would ask me to take his place.”  I said, “Really? Did she say that?”  “No,” he said, “I just know she would because she knows that I know it better than anyone else.”

If you were at the kids’ concert at the new mall, you know that Benjamin “stole the show.” But not in the way a parent would wish. After rehearsing that morning, he had endured all of the singing he could stand for one day. And when the program started, he was front and center acting bored, frowning, rolling his eyes, yawning, and looking like he was ready to fall asleep on his feet. I was standing near some shoppers who said, “Look at the little blonde-haired boy in the front. Boy, he’s a bad one, I wonder if his parents are here to see him?”  Hmm.

I was pleased that the boys didn’t have a present-receiving fixation, at least until Christmas Eve when the “gift-giving-gimmies” hit hard. I even thought of camping under the tree to prevent “sooner” activities in the early morning. About 5:00 a.m. I heard a thump downstairs. Could it be Santa? Or just a boy up early? It turned out to be a firewood log that dropped, but it showed me I was suspicious of the kids. I was wondering if our efforts were getting through. Were the boys enjoying the season for the right reason?

About 8:00 a.m. Diana and I were awakened suddenly by a bell. By our bed stood three little carolers clad in pajamas. In unison they sang with gusto “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” They sang several verses and did two more songs for us. As I saw that their first thoughts on this day were upon the birth of Christ, tears of joy ran down my face. I hugged each one and told them it was the best Christmas present I ever received. If I had gone back to bed and skipped the rest of the Christmas Day, it would have been a success and remembered as one of the best holidays ever!

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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