I looked at the gift. It looked SO different than the others under the tree. It was so carefully wrapped and even had a ribbon tied in a bow. In rich red paper it was beautiful! THIS gift was larger than the others too. Something was missing… It didn’t have a name on it. I couldn’t ask whose it was; it seemed too special. I just looked in wonder. Just having it under the tree added something special to Christmas.
That Christmas, along with other holidays, was not special. Holidays, in my home, were filled with lots of drinking.
Drinking always led to yelling. . .
Yelling led to fights. . .
Fights sometimes went beyond words . . .
In our home the “special” had been lost in holiday events. This Christmas in particular was framed in angry discussions of job loss and financial stress. I overheard a lot.
The GIFT was so mysterious; it was a blaze of red color in my black and white world. It captured my mind.
I could hardly contain myself as the time came to open presents! I am the youngest of four. Presents were handed out in order, oldest to youngest. Each time another gift was handed out the anticipation built.
It did not go to my sister. . .
My oldest brother did not get it. . .
My middle brother was given the box next to it. . .
Next, my mom’s hand reached for THE gift . . . my world went into slow motion when she handed THE mysterious, beautifully wrapped gift to me! For just a moment I didn’t move. Maybe it was a mistake… then I saw the hidden tag; it said, “To Mike from Santa.” It was real. It was for me. My fingers began to un-wrap the box; I was still in disbelief. As the paper fell away, I could hardly believe my eyes; a brand new pair of black ice skates. New for ME! Being the youngest boy with two older brothers almost nothing was new coming to me. Now right in front of me were brand new shiny ice skates.
I remember nothing else of that day beyond skating up and down the ice covered country roads. I was the only one thankful for the recent ice storm! In the next few days, I’m sure I must have broken some world record for the distance skated by a 9 year old boy.
That gift lifted me out of a fog. I’m not sure what I would label the fog. Maybe it was the expectation that somehow Christmas should be special. Maybe it was TV or maybe comments I heard at school but somehow I thought Christmas should be a special time. The mysterious gift made that Christmas the most memorable of my childhood. I never found out who “Santa” was. I wish I could say, “Thank you” and let them know how much that gift meant. Someone’s kindness made a significant impact and a memorable Christmas.
I now know there is another mysterious gift that makes Christmas special. Often it is missed in the busyness, emotion or misplaced focus of the season. This gift has removed the fog of despair that had a grip on my life. This mysterious gift came in the form of a baby born in a stable. When I consider that Jesus left the perfection of heaven, it is almost incomprehensible. He came to walk the planet He created. Each day, His heart was broken by the people he came to serve. He did this for nine year old boys. All this is wonderful, mysterious and beautiful. What a gift. Since I do know THIS gift giver, I can say “Thank you” for a life changing gift.
By Mike Woodard