There would be no Christmas tree in our home until the first weekend of December –– my mother was adamant. My siblings and I could hardly contain our excitement until we brought the freshly cut tree into the living room and hung the balls, baubles, twinkle lights, garlands, and tinsel –– a feast for the eyes. My favorite part was when Mom unboxed the nativity set and let me help position the pieces on the tree skirt. I made sure each piece had a view of the baby. Even as a small boy in the 1960s, I knew the importance of witnessing this momentous event, and I believed all present that first Christmas would crowd around the newborn King.
As my family placed gifts under the tree, we were careful to keep the nativity uncluttered. On Christmas Eve, Mom recounted the story of a loving Father’s gift to His creation and reminded us that eternity in heaven was ours when we accepted this gift. From my earliest memories, Christmas centered around gift-giving and love.
In 1941, Katherine Kennicott Davis penned the words to a beloved song of the season, “The Little Drummer Boy.” The verses recount a story of the smallest of shepherds at history’s most momentous birth. Finding himself with no gift to bring the Christ child, he decides to share his song. You know the words: He played his drum for Him. . .He played his best for Him.
This gift of the heart captured my imagination –– a gift’s impact has everything to do with the giver’s heart.
Kathy and I went Christmas shopping with some small bills in our pockets. With a squeeze of hands, we parted ways at the first aisle, planning to meet back at a certain time; I went my way, Kathy went hers. I scoured the shop for just the right gifts at just the right prices for my bride on this first holiday as married folk.
Among the treasures I purchased was a trinket box covered in red satin and encircled by small dolls holding hands around the box. The box included a red satin lid, and I imagined all the uses my wife could find for the gift. Besides, it looked like something that would please her.
I saw by the big smile on her face that Kathy’s shopping was equally successful. At our apartment, we again went separate ways to wrap the gifts. At the last minute, I trimmed a piece of colored paper, folded it into a small card, and wrote a note to tuck inside the satin covered box. Smiling to myself, I added a generous amount of ribbon to the wrapped package and placed it under our tree next to the gift already there with my name on the tag. Our gifts encircled our nativity set that I had arranged as soon as the tree went up, and my gift to Kathy nestled near the shepherd boy.
Other seasons have been more lavish, and the gifts under this year’s tree are significantly more expensive than those we exchanged that first year. The little satin box has seen better days. But among the memories Kathy holds dear is that small note in that first gift. It simply read, “With my heart, Jimmy.” She still has the box and the note, too. Her very own shepherd’s best.
As family gathers and gifts fill the spaces around the nativity, I will remember to give my best to Jesus. The season celebrates the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. May all that we offer Him be heartfelt and sincere, with gratitude for His gift of salvation. May each of us give our best and know in our hearts: Then He smiled at me, Pa rum pum pum pum. . .