For nearly two weeks it lay there, nestled far beneath the low branches of the Christmas tree. It was the first gift she had ever wrapped by herself. Roughly the size of a walnut, wrapped in many layers of paper and tape, she proudly showed me what she had done.
“It’s for you, Mommy…I wrapped it all by myself. I think you’ll like it,” she said with a shy smile.
“Well of course I will! Emily, you are so precious to wrap a gift for Mommy! I can’t wait to open it.”
She gingerly placed it under the tree and would, from time to time, check to make sure it was still there. I mused at what “treasure” my sweet six year old might have placed in such a small container. Bubble gum machines are a big thing with Emily, and I was quite sure I’d receive one of the many plastic and metal adjustable rings she’d collected over the past few months. I was touched…knowing how hard it is for this little one to part with her “jewels.” I kept reminding myself to make a big fuss over it on Christmas morning.
And so it was, with great joy, that she placed that tiny package on my lap on Christmas morning.
I struggled past the many layers of tape and gasped in surprise at the beautiful chaplet bracelet that lay inside a small plastic egg…one usually reserved for those bubble gum machine treasures.
“Emily! Is this for me? Really? You don’t mean it…this is your very favorite chaplet. It’s so lovely. Surely you don’t mean to give this away? It’s one of the nicest things you own, and it was a gift. Don’t you want to keep it for yourself?”
Smiling broadly, she explained: “I like it very much, but I wanted to give you something really, really nice. It was the nicest thing I have. You told me how much you liked it, so I wanted to give it to you. It’s yours.”
Torn. I had told her how lovely that bracelet was when she received it. I had even stated how much I’d like to have one like it. I certainly had never meant for her to give it to me! I was so tempted to refuse the gift…it seemed too precious, too valuable to take from such a loving child.
So many thoughts ran through my mind and almost instantly it dawned on me…this is what we all must do. We must, without reserve, without thought for self, give the very best we have. Isn’t that what God did when He sent His only begotten Son? Our very first Christmas gift…a gift of infinite value, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger…a little baby waiting, little arms reaching up, later to reach out, stretch out upon the Cross at Calvary. God gave the best He had…He didn’t weigh the cost of this Gift. Our Father in heaven held back nothing, not even His own Son…born to die, that we might live. God is the ultimate giver of all gifts, and by His example we all learn what it is to give from the heart.
Like little Emily.
I thanked her, and immediately put on the bracelet. It lay cold across my wrist, it’s brightly polished grey beads slowly warming to body temperature. Even now, it jingles upon the keyboard as I type…a reminder of how well my sweet girl has learned “it is better to give than it is to receive.” I don’t believe she opened a single gift as joyfully as she gave the one I’m wearing.
The bits of wrapping paper and boxes are all cleared away, now. Christmas has begun…days of joy, days of peace, days in which we’ll all try to remember the beautiful Gift we’ve all received that still waits in the manger in Bethlehem…