What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? How about the best gift you’ve ever given? Can you come up with your top three? What’s the common denominator between them all? What makes the gifts so special?
More often than not, when I ask people these questions, they usually respond with gifts that:
- were not expected
- were ones they (or the other person) really needed
- showed how much one person knew or understood the other
- were not necessarily things, but experiences
- were sacrificial on the part of the giver
That’s how I would describe the favorite gift I have ever given. And today, I’d like to tell you about it. Grab a nice cold glass of egg nog and enjoy . . .
It would be my first Christmas away from home. Four months earlier, I trekked from Wisconsin to my new home in Seattle to seek my MBA degree. Having left all of my family and friends behind, I knew Christmas of 1979 would be tough.
After experiencing (and not enjoying) my first solo Thanksgiving, I decided to see if my meager bank account could support a surprise trip home. Although a flight to Green Bay was out of my price range, I could pull this off if I flew to Chicago and had someone drive me the remaining four hours north. Bless his heart, my friend Bruce offered to be my chauffeur to and from O’Hare.
Once my top secret trip was scheduled, I made a point of sounding extra lonesome on my weekly calls home. (Yes, a little nasty but in the end they wouldn’t mind!) My parents were having mixed emotions about this Christmas, too.
After our long, snowy ride, we arrived at my brother Rick’s house late on the 23rd and reviewed our plans. Rick had acquired a large empty cardboard box, big enough to fit yours truly. It would be addressed to my parents from the North Pole, and the grand unveiling would be set for 9:00 a.m. Christmas eve on their upstairs apartment doorstep.
As Rick drove me to my parents’ place, the suspense became almost unbearable. When we arrived just outside their door, I placed the box over my head and crouched down, sitting on top of the bottom flaps to hold it in place. After giving the “all clear” signal to Rick, he rang the doorbell and rushed down the stairs out of sight.
Let’s pause so you can fully imagine this. You are an unexpected Christmas gift on your parents’ doorstep and are about to shock the living daylights out of them! My heart was about to explode.
My mom, in her mid-Sixties, answered the door and shouted, “Oh my, Lil, what’s this?” (Lil was a similarly aged neighbor visiting.) Her presence only added to the raucous. Next was “My, this is heaaavvvvyy! What could be in here?” Lil added, “I don’t know, but let’s try lifting it.” Listening in on their speculation, I almost lost it!
Well, to make a long story short, these ladies tried their best to lift it (while I, inside, was desperately holding down the flaps!). When one of my boots stuck out, I knew it was time. I counted to three and in one move jumped out of the box and cried, “Merry Christmas!” Just try to imagine their shock. It was truly priceless. And, within five minutes, it was all around the entire complex.
A Christmas present no one would ever forget.
This season, we focus on what I personally consider to be history’s greatest gift—a savior, named Jesus. He was and is an unexpected gift that came to mean everything to this world, and He came from a Giver who knew exactly what we needed.
Over the next week as you spend time with those you love, think about the reasons behind your gifting. Is this the year for your greatest gift?
Merry Christmas from the LifeSmart family.