Raising 3 kids while pastoring a small church was always a financial challenge. This challenge was more evident during the Christmas season, however. My Dad, who was a PK, would share with me stories of his Christmases living in a household with limited income. He and his 7 siblings resented the church and God because of this for many years. Hearing these stories, Paula and I would do our best to make sure Christmas was as special as possible every year, yet always wondering if our limited income for Christmas gifts was eliciting a similar emotion for our young family.
It wasn’t until a hand written letter from our oldest son given to us on Christmas Eve, did we realize that Christmas gifts were really secondary to the emotional health of a young family compared to the stuff that happens in the home every day of the year. Our oldest child, Randy, was a senior in high school when he gave Paula and I an early Christmas gift. It was a letter he wrote to us. I came across this letter as I was doing research. It said:
A Gift For My Parents
A Christmas discussion ‘round a table brings up the question
“What was the best gift you have ever received?”
Was it the bike or glove, the letterman’s jacket or the telescope?
The shoes, pants, toys, or the money?
How can there be a Best Gift?
I cannot decide whether Nintindo beats G.I. Joe.
My mind is not made up, As through the years I sift.
But I can decide this.
The greatest gift did not come wrapped nicely under the Christmas tree,
Although they were especially nice.
The best gift in fact, did come to me free,
and had a different kind of price.
The price of time, of patience, prayers and understanding.
Godliness, love, humor, and laughter. You showed them all to me.
They were shown daily, laid out in the kitchen, the den, the bedroom, a precious sight to see.
Two parents joined by a common goal. To serve God with all their might,
with all their mind, and all their soul.
They are the best gifts I have ever been given.
Thank You God for the gift of my parents.
May they in some way know, how much I truly love them.
An emotionally healthy family does not need a large church nor a large bank account to make Christmas memories. Christmas gifts are nice. In fact, Paula and I still forego exchanging gifts to make sure our grandkids have something from us under the tree on Christmas morning.
Knowing the Best Gifts have already been given by you throughout the year, enjoy this Christmas season without guilt or regret. But if you can afford that special gift, go for it! It’s Christmastime!