Updated: Dec 21, 2022
The Little Gift We Bring
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We've been talking a lot about gift giving and the pressure that goes along with it this time of year. Specifically, we're asking the question:
What if the zinger gift is not necessarily what you bring but how you bring it?
In reading a well-known children's book, The Legend of the Poinsettia, I was reminded of how a little gift goes a long way.
In this story, a young girl works with her mother to create a blanket to wrap the baby Jesus in for the Christmas Eve procession at their church. When her mother gets sick, she is unable to finish it on her own and worries she does not have a gift to bring to Jesus. A woman with many more years of wisdom tells her, "Ah, Lucida, any gift is beautiful because it is given. Whatever you give, the Baby Jesus will love, because it comes from you."
The little girl wonders, "But what can I give now?"
Isn't that how we feel sometimes? Maybe we had a zinger gift prepared but because of a change in circumstances, it is no longer an option. Maybe we feel we don't have enough resources or time to prepare the gift we'd like to give. We fear a little gift is not enough.
Like we discussed in part 9 of this series, on the first Christmas, the wise men came bearing gifts. Not just any type of gift but "zinger" gifts. Gifts that were prophetic and worthy of a King, High Priest and Savior who would lay down His life for our's.
Isn't it interesting though to see what the shepherds brought? Nothing. Or, at least nothing worthy of being documented in ancient scriptures. While the wise men brought grand gifts, the shepherds did not. In this, we see God did not require a physical gift. He did not turn the shepherds away when they showed up empty-handed. He wanted their hearts. Leaving their flocks, the shepherds left their very livelihood because something was greater. Someone was greater. Their priorities and their hearts were properly aligned.
In the story, The Legend of the Poinsettia, the little girl gets to experience this as well. With the blanket being unfinished and nothing of great value to bring, she gathers a stack of what looks like green weeds. I'm sure the people in the crowd would be wondering, "Green weeds? Why is she bringing the King green weeds from outside?"
As she places them around the nativity scene, a miracle unfolds and petals resembling red stars appear on the "green weeds" with tiny yellow flowers in the center. The poinsettia bloomed and multiplied.
As you decorate with poinsettias this holiday season, remember the story of the lovely Mexican wildflower. It is known as flor de Navidad, or Christmas flower, and also flor de la Nochebuena, flower of the Holy Night.
Remember the little gifts we give, when given with a humble heart, God can use to multiply for His glory.
And if you're trying to think of some inexpensive, little gifts which could multiply in someone's heart this year, here is an idea from under my tree.
It's actually very simple, but I'm going to state the obvious for a moment. For a gift to be considered thoughtful, it requires our thought.
Take some time today and think about your favorite Christmas memories. Where were you? Who were you with? What made this special? Why does this memory stand out from the others?
Then, begin to think about how you can recreate it for the person or persons you were with.
Here is a memory that come to mind for me -
As kids, we loved to go to a cute little store called Laddie's with Mom during the holidays. It's that whole concept of "they won't remember what you did but they'll remember how you made them feel." I can't remember what was on their shelves or the retail they sold but I remember how they served this delicious red cider. My sister and I would try to stifle our eager desire to bee-line to the cider and instead meander with Mom a bit as she looked around. It was a "don't touch anything" type of store.
Shy smiles graced our faces when they'd ask if we'd care for any hot cider, and they'd pour a few ounces into small cups for each of us. It would always be so hot, we'd have to blow on it and wait for it to cool. But the waiting was made easier with a chocolate thumbprint cookie. We'd wash down the crumbling goodness with the warm sweetness of the cider.
Each year, we'd look forward to going to "the cider store." Laddie's is now closed but the memory is very much alive for me.
This year, I'm putting together the gift of a shared memory for my mom and sister. A cute recipe card with the ingredients to make this altogether simple cider which we loved so much before ...and a few chocolate thumbprint cookies to taste while they wait for the cider to cool. We may not be able to go to this store anymore but we can relive the memory together and invite others to share in this memory with us.
Speaking of, here's the recipe so you can create a fun, new memory with the people you love. It's a no frills, no production recipe - the best kind.
Red Hot Apple Cider
2 qt apple juice
1 c red hot candies
1 tbsp sugar
Stovetop, dissolve sugar in apple juice. Then, add red hots. Stir occasionally to keep candies from sticking to the bottom. Simmer on low. (I'm sure this could also be great in a crockpot!)
May we find strength for today as we reflect on the gift of Jesus. May our joy renew as we share the truth of Christmas with others and peace fill our world as we reflect on the greatness of this gift from God. May we rest knowing this is not only a memory but a promise of what's to come - Who is to come again - for us.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
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