The True Gift

I was eight years old and the thrill of Christmas was in the air.  Even though I was a mischievous  young man, I made sure to get my act together prior to Thanksgiving this year so I could get some great gifts from Santa.  We lived with my grandparents on their farm in Maryland as my father who was in the Air Force was stationed overseas.  In those days military men did not make a whole lot of money, and life was hard on my mother raising six kids.

After not being able to sleep the night before due to my excitement, it felt good to be deep inside the big bed I shared with my brother and cousin, that is until I realized it was finally Christmas morning.  In a flash I threw my clothes on, yelling to my brother and cousin… “Get Up Santa Has Been Here”   Down the cold steps I flew and went into the warmth of the large living room where other family members had gathered.  The small Christmas tree looked even smaller when I noticed there were few gifts under the tree.  I noticed two small packages with my name on them and I opened them up… a pair of cheap gloves and a little steel toy car was all that I received.  What was going on here, did Santa make a mistake?  Why had I been good for the past couple months if there wasn’t a big reward for it?  I stared at my mom who could see the disappointment in my face and I noticed the tears coming down her eyes. Why was she crying, it wasn’t her fault, it was that guy Santa Claus.   I left the room and went to be by myself and anger began to come over me.   Who needs this Santa Claus, he is a liar, says if you are nice instead of naughty you will get good presents.  How was I going to be able to face the kids at school.  My whole family must have been naughty because none of us got that much at all.

From that moment on, I could care less what Santa said. He could keep his presents. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  No need to be good,it didn’t matter.   For years I felt this way, I had difficulty when someone would give me a gift, I didn’t know how to react and just mumbled a thanks under my breath, all the while remembering that Christmas morning.

Thirty five years later, my wife Pam and I traveled from Georgia back to Maryland to spend Christmas.  We attended a Christmas Eve service and a lady began to sing the song “Mary Did You Know”.  I felt something in my heart say..this man Christ whom I had accepted as my savior years earlier is the True Gift,  sure I was a Christian but the unconditional love demonstrated in this song moved me.  As we left the service we looked up to the bright star studded sky, and as  frost came from our breath as we spoke to the Heavens and said  to  her Dad Peter and my Mom Ruby “Merry Christmas.” I also said Mom, please forgive me for making you cry that morning, I know the gift of Christmas  and I thank you so much being a loving mom.

I love the Christmas season, it reflects the unconditional love our Christ has for us.  And Santa, I forgive you big guy.  I just didn’t understand.

Rev Tom  & Pam Bragg

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