I have been working on my memoirs for a little over a year now. It seems I can never catch up. My advice to you is that if you are interested in writing yours, START NOW! The longer you wait the more you have to remember.
Since it is CHRISTmas I decided to write about all the Christmas’s I have experienced. Wait! I can’t do that! There are sixty-three of them. Whoa, how many? You’ve gotta be kidding me. There is no way I am that old. Okay, okay, I will choose just one to share with you. Sit back down and turn your computer back on. Whew!
When I was a child we were fortunate to live in a modest home in Baton Rouge, LA. Dad worked for the NATB (National Automobile Theft Bureau). We were not rich by any measure yet we were not as poor as some folks. We always had a great Christmas morning with lots of presents, some we asked for and some were a nice surprise. There were even presents that had riddles on them. We had to guess what they were before we could open them.
Years later Dad gave up his job because he felt the call of God into the ministry. After several years he was called by the denominational home office to go on the mission field. In the early 1960’s we were privileged to live in British Guiana (now Guyana), South America. There are so many stories I could tell of those years, like the time we were in the jungle and went swimming in a creek in our underwear. We chased tropical fish and then marched out of the jungle with our undeies hanging on the pole over each of our shoulders–natives laughing. Sorry, I got off track again. Since I have you back in your chair I am going to tell you of a wonderful Christmas.
The mission home was a large two story concrete home. We lived upstairs and the business of the mission was carried out down stairs. The week of Christmas was exciting. I was twelve and not yet old enough to participate in youth functions. Since the Christmas party was held downstairs in a large classroom, I was invited to participate. About twenty-five young people arrived and were excited about the evening. Each brought a present with the name of the person they had drawn at the previous monthly meeting. There were none for me or my two brothers; we were simply excited about being there for the games and food.
As the activity and fellowship began to wind down, the time came for the opening of gifts. I remember being so excited. I wanted to see what everyone was giving each other. Each person took their seat in wooden folding chairs formed in a circle around a small Christmas tree with only a few ornaments. The first name was announced. The next name would not be called until this one had opened their present and thanked whoever gave it to them. The paper was painstakingly pulled off so as not to tear it.
What are they doing? I thought to myself. Just rip it off like I do!
The present was opened. She got up and walked over to the man who had given it to her and gave him a great big hug and sat down crying. The paper was folded nicely and placed in her purse.
I was confused. I thought this was Christmas!
The next name was called. Paper was unwrapped slowly, folded with care and placed in brown paper bag.
The gift exchange continued…
Come on, where is the fun stuff??? I am totally confused now??? This is not Christmas!
You’ve got to be kidding me, please tell me you are.
I watched toiletry after toiletry given out to each other. The recipients were so excited and appreciative. Me? I couldn’t believe it. I was thankful my name was not on the list.
After Christmas was over, that night was still haunting me. Why did these people give such meaningless gifts? I went to Mama and asked. She smiled and said, “Andy, the people are extremely poor here. They can’t afford luxuries and fun things. For them a new toothbrush or shoe polish or even toilet paper is an exciting gift for them.”
I had never thought of it that way. These people were happy to receive a gift they needed, not one that was a choice, or a wish. The gifts were things they needed to live a comfortable life. Each was so thankful they shed tears in excitement. The giver sacrificed much to be able to give and the one receiving was blessed by their sacrifice.
This is why, at the age of twelve, I was blessed with an experience I will never forget. The true meaning for us, in the giving of gifts, is the receiving with open hearts the gift God has given to us. That gift is His Son. He is the ultimate sacrificial Lamb and is provided to everyone who is his child.
My gift that Christmas was this lesson. God tells us it is better to give than to receive. To give is a great gift in itself. When one sacrifices to give he is blessed beyond all measure. God gave us our gift through His Son the first Christmas morning. Thank You Father!
Merry CHTISTmas Everyone!