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The Christmas Gift and More!
    by Dr. James Blanchard

    I was 8 years old, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. The year was 1960. Third grade was proving to be an exciting experience. White Pigeon was a small town in southern lower Michigan. There were about 30 students in Miss Naylor’s class. Most came from middle income families like my own. However one little boy was different. He came to school every day in the same tattered clothes. Nothing really fit him. His shoes were old, and too big for his feet. Every day he played at his desk with a old, battered, little metal car with only three wheels.

    Christmas vacation was less than two weeks away and the time had come for all of us to draw names. Which classmate would I buy a small gift for? More importantly, which classmate would be buying a gift for me! Just whose name was drawn by whom was always a well-guarded secret.

    Those last two weeks passed so slowly. It was actually painful! Finally the magic day arrived. Not only were we going to get out of school for vacation, but our first Christmas dreams would come true as we held our school party and opened our first present of the season.

    To my dismay, Miss Naylor started the gift procession at the end of the alphabet rather than the beginning with the traditional “A.” Since my last name began with “B,” that put me excruciatingly close to the end of the whole process. One by one, students walked to the tree and picked up their gifts. I thought it would never end! All the big, finely-wrapped packages were quickly disappearing from under the tree.

    Finally it was my turn. I rushed to the tree only to find the package left for me, the one that bore my name, was quite small and wrapped in only newspaper. I took it back to my desk and sat down to open it. As the tape pulled loose from the paper and the folds of newsprint opened, I found within that small package the second most valuable gift I have ever received. It was a small, battered metal car, with only three wheels.

    The other kids laughed. Those final few minutes of class were nearly unbearable as I was teased quite mercilessly. But even at 8 years old, I recognized the significance of the gift. The car was certainly old. And yes, it was indeed broken. But it was the only toy that little boy had. It was his most prized possession. He had given me the very best thing he had to give!

    Thirty eight years have passed since that Christmas. But every year as we approach the last day of school before Christmas vacation, I remember the second greatest gift I have ever received.

    “Why is it only the second best you’ve received?” you may be asking. Because the greatest gift I have ever received came from someone who also sacrificed to give me the very best he had to offer.

He gave His best by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world.
    You see, the greatest gift I have ever received came from God nearly two thousand years ago. He gave His best by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world. As the years passed, Jesus grew strong and wise. He lived a perfect life. He owed nothing to anyone. Yet as an adult, he stood before a mob of false accusers without saying a word. He allowed himself to be declared guilty by an earthly magistrate of crimes he had not committed. He was tortured and beaten and finally crucified on a cross. On the cross, he was once again declared guilty, this time by a heavenly magistrate. He was guilty of crimes he had never committed — my crimes and your crimes. He died on that cross in our place, was buried, and then three nights and days later, he victoriously rose from the dead. He received the punishment that we deserved. Jesus paid the price for our failures to give us the gift of life with him.

    This Christmas, as you anticipate the arrival of friends and loved ones and the opening of your gifts, please don’t forget!

    Please don’t forget the greatest gift that has ever been offered to you.

    Please don’t forget to thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, into the world. How would you feel if you gave your best to someone and they didn’t even bother to thank you? So look up to heaven, or bow your head, and say, “Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of life, love, and forgiveness in Jesus Christ your Son.”

    Please don’t forget those people all around you whose empty or lonely holiday season could be made brighter by a heartfelt gift from you — even if it’s a simple call, hug, smile, kind word, visit, card, or even a battered little three wheel car. You never know, they just may remember it for the rest of their life!

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Title: "The Christmas Gift and More!"
Author: Special Feature
Publication Date: December 25, 1999



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