The Best Christmas Gift of All
by Suellen Fry
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As I began decorating for the holidays, my son pulled out a worn manger and it’s matching accessories from a Christmas box.
"This is falling apart mom, we need a new one", my son insisted.
I turned to look at the aging manger and replied,
“That manger is perfectly fine, I don’t need a new one”!
As my 11 year old careful unwrapped the animals and the three wise men he couldn’t help but insist they were a stones throw away from the garbage can.
“But mom, the camels head is missing and the donkey’s tail is about to come off”!
As he was about to tear off the jack-ass’s tail I jumped up and gently grabbed the paper mache animal that had graced my home for over 20 years.
“But mom , look this whole thing is way too old and we need a new one”, he added!
Okay I admit..the donkey was part of a less than perfect menagerie-but I still loved them despite the fact that some had legs missing and even lost their heads during their 60 year existence. I carefully finished unpacking my old treasure and placed it underneath the tree.
“There…it looks perfect!, I exclaimed.
My little guy shook his head as if I were one step closer to the funny farm and walked off to play his X box 360 in the neighboring game room.
I sat there and proudly looked on at my less than perfect manger scene. Sixty years ago a young couple just starting out had this very manger scene sitting underneath their tree. They didn’t have much money and they had been married less than a year. That young couple had their entire lives ahead of them. They were to live a full life with a house full of children. They would laugh and cry as they were handed a plate full of life. They carried their kids to church and raised them to believe in God. Every year as Christmas approached, that manger was unpacked and placed underneath the Christmas tree. And whoever did the most ‘good deeds’ had the privilege of placing baby Jesus in the manger that Christmas Eve. It was an honor, and we all worked hard to earn that privilege. Now that young couple have grown old. They had eight children and they have all grown and have children of their own. And each year as I unpack that old mess of a manger, I think of that same young couple who gave it to me over 20 years ago. I bake the same Christmas cookies my mom made and I even play the very same Christmas album I listened to as a child, thanks to modern technology.
A new Manger? Never! I didn’t see a donkey about to lose his tail. I didn’t see a decapitated camel or a manger that was peeling apart in places. I saw my childhood each time that manger was unpacked. I saw nearly 60 years of Christmas’s and a young couple with barely a penny to spare many years ago. I saw a father who made toys from his bare hands and a mom who so lovingly baked and cooked a lovely Christmas dinner, even though she had little sleep the night before. The manger was as new to me as it was to the couple who bought it many moons ago.
My son came back into the room and glanced at the manger scene. He knelt down to take a closer look and had a puzzled look on his face.
“Mom, have you noticed that the only three figures that still look perfect are Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus”?
As I took a moment to look, I hadn’t realized it, but he was right! They remained intact and perfect for all these years! I smiled at the thought of it all and went to the kitchen to make some snowball cookies.
As I was rolling out the dough I stopped to reflect. This was one of the best gifts I ever received and didn’t realize it until today! A new laptop would have been nice. A 42″ flat screen TV would have been spectacular. Ah, but a manger scene with years of memories-nothing could compete with that! No one can strip us of those magical Christmas memories and the folks who helped create those heavenly moments that stay etched in our minds for-ever.
Merry Christmas to that young couple who started a tradition 60 years ago. Merry Christmas mom and dad! Thanks for making my Christmas special every year as I unwrap the best Christmas gift of all! I love you!
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love!
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I haven't been around much lately but was delighted to see your name pop up on my email with a new article posting. Thank you for giving us a few moments with your family, a peek through your Christmas window, as you set the stage once more for His coming.
Suellen, you brought out the old Christmas memories. Beautiful and touching.No wonder they call you the Queen.God bless you and may we be blessed also to read such memorable stories.
Suellen, I was so mesmerized by your story that I forgot to wish you. Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year.