How to Have a Christmas Without Money

Margery Tallcott tells the story of a memorable Christmas that she and her husband spent with their six-year-old son Pete. It was during the time of America’s Great Depression and money was so tight that the family simply couldn’t afford to give gifts that year. With Christmas one week away, the father and mother were forced to break the news to Pete that he wouldn’t be getting any presents for Christmas. However, the father did offer a backup plan. He said, “I’ll tell you what we can do: We can make pictures of the presents we’d give each other if we had enough money to buy them.”

So, for the next few days father, mother, and son worked in secret to create their gifts by cutting out, drawing, coloring, painting, hammering, nailing, or whatever else it took to produce them. When a gift was finished, it was placed under the sparse little Christmas tree the family had managed to buy. No family member knew what any other member was making for them, and it was all great fun.

Finally, Christmas morning arrived and it was time to exchange the gifts. The “imagination” gifts to the father included a black limousine and a red motor boat. The gifts to the mother included a diamond bracelet and a fur coat. The gifts to Pete were all expensive toys that had been cut from magazine advertisements. Laughter filled the home as each family member opened each gift, and the careful thought and creativity that had gone into the gifts showed the incredible amount of love the members had for one another.

But then came the moment when Pete wanted to give his parents what he considered his best present to them. The couple had absolutely no idea what to expect, but they watched as he pulled out a crayon-colored picture that he had obviously gone to great lengths to draw. It was a picture of three smiling people – a man, a woman, and a little boy – with their arms wrapped around each other. Underneath the picture Pete had written just one word: US.

I have no idea where this Christmas finds you. I don’t know what your station is in life. I don’t know what your financial situation looks like. I don’t know what health problems you have. I don’t know what you are worried about. And I don’t know what the upcoming new year holds in store for you. But there are two things I do know. First, if you get to spend Christmas with your version of US, you are beyond blessed. And, second, regardless of whether or not you have an US, the gift that Christmas is really all about – God sending His Son to live among us, teach us, inspire us, die on the cross for our sins, resurrect, and ascend back to heaven – didn’t cost you one penny. For that matter, neither does the salvation that comes through you placing your belief in that Son as Savior (John 3:16).

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