The Best Present

Since Christmas happens in December, I try to weave in some Christmas posts here and there throughout the month. Today I thought I’d share a story that I picked up somewhere along the way a few years ago. It was written by a woman named Margery Tallcott, who was a parent in the Great Depression. She wrote:

When our son Pete was six, it was a Depression year and the bare essentials were all we could afford. We felt we were richer than most people, though, in things of the mind and imagination and spirit. That was a comfort of sorts to us, but nothing a six-year-old could understand.

With Christmas a week off, we told Pete that there could not be any store-bought presents this year – for any of us. ‘But I’ll tell you what we can do,’ said his father with an inspiration born of heartbreak. ‘We can make pictures of the presents we’d like to give each other.’

For the next few days each of us worked secretly, with smirks and giggles. Somehow we did scrape together enough to buy a small tree. But we had pitifully few decorations to trim it with. Yet, on Christmas morning, never was a tree heaped with such riches! The gifts were only pictures of gifts, to be sure, cut out or drawn and colored and painted, nailed and hammered and pasted and sewed. But they were presents, luxurious beyond our dreams: A slinky black limousine and a red motor boat for Daddy. A diamond bracelet and a fur coat for me.

Pete’s presents were the most expensive toys cut from advertisements. Our best present to him was a picture of a fabulous camping tent, complete with Indian designs, painted, of course, by Daddy, and magnificent pictures of a swimming pool, with funny remarks by me. Daddy’s best present to me was a watercolor he had painted of our dream house, white with green shutters and forsythia bushes out on the lawn.

Naturally, we didn’t expect any “best present” from Pete. But with squeals of delight, he gave us a crayon drawing of flashy colors and the most modernistic technique. But it was unmistakably the picture of three people laughing – a man, a woman, and a little boy. They had their arms around one another and were, in a sense, one person. Under the picture he had printed just one word: US. For many years we have looked back at that day as the richest, most satisfying Christmas we have ever had.

Whatever your financial state is this Christmas, don’t forget that you are blessed if you have family who love you. As little Pete knew, “US” is tough to beat as a holiday gift. And if you are a Christian, you are even more blessed because you are a member of the family of God. That means that one day you’ll receive your “best present”: the blessing of getting to spend eternity in joy, happiness, and bliss with your Savior. His name is Jesus, and He really is the reason for the season.   

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