After opening the small collection of presents beneath our tree, Dad announced that there was one more for all of us to share. In those days many of our presents came in boxes from kind aunts or faraway friends: useful and edible gifts like socks, a box of chocolates, or a can of popcorn. But Dad said this last gift was from him and Mom. It was too big to wrap so he would have to go and get it. I was only five, but how well I remember that moment now so many years later–the dimly lit room, the shining tree, and the excitement of anticipation. In a few minutes Dad came back with the best thing we could have ever imagined: a toboggan! It was taller than Dad, with its long, beautifully polished, honey-colored wood curling at the top–the perfect sled for all of us five children to ride on at once. At the time we lived in northern British Columbia and the snow was deep all winter. We rushed into our warm things and then outside where Dad pulled us behind the Jeep Wagoneer up and down our driveway all that magical Christmas Eve.
The next morning my mom backed over the toboggan because it had been left behind the car. It was completely crushed, and so were we. There was no money to replace it. So that was that.
My children never like hearing this story –“it’s so sad!” But as an adult, as a parent myself with the responsibility of preparing gifts for my children, this memory is one I cherish. It is a picture to me of the gifts the Lord plans for his children and the delight he takes in our joy. And it reminds me of this truth which we are taught every year: all the presents we give and receive at Christmastime eventually break, grow old, or lose their power to delight. But God’s perfect gift, planned from ancient times, orchestrated with perfect care, and revealed at just the right time, never breaks or grows old. That gift is Jesus.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 1 Corinthians 9:15