We’ve had a couple weeks now to recover from the Thanksgiving festivities which filled our homes, followed by the near-madness of Black Friday. Sunday the countdown began. Young and old alike are turning the tabs on their advent calendars, counting the days until Christmas.

Already packages wrapped in festive paper and sparkling ribbons are beginning to peek out from beneath decorated Christmas trees and stockings which have been hung in eager anticipation of good things to come. For those who find it hard to wait for Christmas morning to arrive, some of these mysterious packages might even be found hidden in closets, under beds and other secret places.

It’s always interesting to watch how people open their gifts. When we have our Christmas party at the church, there are two sisters that I especially enjoy watching. The older of the girls literally rips her gifts open and as soon as she sees what was hidden beneath the paper, she moves on to the next gift. Her younger sister is quite different. She carefully opens each gift, and takes time to really look at it before selecting another gift.

It’s always interesting, too, to watch people choose which gifts to open first. A lot of times people start with the biggest gifts first, and sometimes overlook the smaller gifts in the clutter which follows.

Sometimes people forget that the smallest packages may contain the most precious gifts. Nor do the gifts have to have a large price tag attached to be priceless.

A few years ago Rex bought me a small cardboard box with a cheerful Christmas scene on all sides. I’m sure the box cost only cost a few dollars, but to me its value is priceless. That box has become a special memory box for me, where cards, notes and letters have been carefully tucked away. I usually look in that box, which I keep at the head of my bed, several times a week. When I look at something in the box, it brings back recollections of a special time or event that blessed my life.

Tucked away in another box are things most people would call worthless, but again, to me, are priceless. There is a crude little pillow, cut, stuffed and sewn by my little nephew when I broke my arm. There is a little cardboard box with some pennies and a couple nickels, again from one of my nephews, given as a birthday gift. When he handed me the box he said, “I wanted to get you something, but this was all the money I had.” He gave me all that he had as a gift of love — I can guarantee I will never spend those pennies and nickels; they are a constant reminder of the totally unselfish love of a child. The box also has some greeting cards made from sheets of paper and colored with crayons. No, they were not given by a child, but by my husband. When he was a TS counselor he would often do the same activities as the child who was in his care, and I was the benefactor. More priceless, one-of-a-kind gifts to remind me of a God-given love.

We have a little over two weeks to finish our Christmas shopping for this year. Everywhere we turn the stores are offering special sales and last-minute bargains on everything imaginable.

But in each of our lives there is someone who needs one of those priceless gifts that come truly from the heart and not from the pocketbook. Perhaps we will find our answer when we remember the words of Dr. Seuss: “Christmas can’t be bought from a store . . . Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”

Thought for the week — Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas. (Dale Evans)

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