The Gift Exchange
Saul heard talk of the child lying in a manger. It was a day’s walk to get there, but Saul was not scared. He only wanted to follow the holy light of the star and give Baby Jesus a special gift.
He did not have much, but he had a special talent. He knew he could make a wonderful present to give the little one that so many men talked about in the village.
John and Miriam, Saul’s parents watched him making the gift. Everyday, when the chores were over, he worked on it. He found just the right piece of wood. He admired its shape and the fine grain of it. Yes, it would do nicely.
“I want to make a dove and give it to the baby Jesus,” Paul said.
His father had other ideas. “I heard that kings came from the East. They gave the baby presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These things cost much money. Frankincense and myrrh are used to make perfumes and incense and in many rituals. You know how valuable gold is. Maybe, the babe’s mother Mary would not like a wooden bird when she can choose from many rare and dear objects.”
Saul kept working. He whittled out the shape of a magnificent dove in flight. Then he scooped out parts that did not show so when he set it on the tip of his finger it balanced perfectly there, not falling down.
His knife quickly formed wings and feather outlines. He rubbed it with sand until it was perfectly smooth. Then he dabbed it with dye until it looked like a pure white dove.
“That is the best work you ever did, Saul,” said his father. “Perhaps we can present it Mary for her son.” They wrapped up some fish and loaves of bread and started out.
They arrived at nightfall and stood until Mary noticed them. “I brought this for the baby,” Saul said. He felt embarrassed when he saw a great pile of expensive presents.”
“Oh, it is perfect and rare,” Mary said, “The best gift.”
The babe reached out his hand and Saul set the bird on his finger. It almost looked real. Then it flapped its wings and cooed. It flew from his hand and alit on a beam above.
A voice said, “Thank you for your gift. It was the best you had to give. Now I give you the best I have, the gift of eternal life.”
Paul and his father went back to their village. They told everyone of the wonderment of that night when Paul and the baby exchanged the very best Christmas gift they could give, a gift only each could give.
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