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The Best Gift of All

Children offer the best comedy, especially as they prepare for Christmas. A Sunday school teacher finds laughter and meaning in the simplest of gestures. And really, that's what it's all about.




“Baby Jesus could have been born in our house. My Mom says our house looks like a zoo,” Sarah said.


“Jesus was born in a manger, not a zoo!” Eli responded.


“It’s the same thing. Don’t you see him surrounded by all those animals by the church sign?” Sarah said.


“Why did the three kings bring all those weird gifts? Didn’t they know he would need diapers? No one ever brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to our house when my little sister came home from the hospital,” Jeremiah added.


“Yeah, my Mom said she wished someone brought her a nap when my brother was born,” Sarah said.


I struggled to keep a straight face at the Christmas party for my second-grade Sunday school class. Needless to say, it was a struggle to do so as I heard their conversations. I was currently walking around the classroom as they completed crafts and ate treats. The room looked like a hobby store had exploded. Glitter, pom poms, pipe cleaners, ribbons, and markers covered every available surface area. I would be coming home a little later than expected due to cleaning up the craft disaster area once class was over.


I quickly texted my husband to let him know. I still had cookies to bake and presents to wrap. A long night was clearly in the cards.


“It’s amazing that the three kings found their way using only a star. My Dad can’t find his way to the grocery store without a GPS,” Alena said.


“I wonder if they had to be re-routed due to traffic,” Adam said.


“A traffic jam of camels? That sounds really smelly,” Alena replied.


“Being in the car with my family is really smelly. At least they didn’t have to worry about windows and doors. They could just wander off a little bit,” Adam said.


“I guess so. I remember when I got really sick in the car this one time…” Alena began explaining, as I walked away. I had no desire to know about her being sick in the car. I still had an aversion to a certain brand of cereal that had made my own son sick in the car. In the summer. A good distance from home.


A glance at the clock showed only five minutes left, so I had the children begin cleaning up and wrapping things up. Soon after, the parents began coming in to collect their unabashedly honest children. Eventually only one child was left, Collette.


Collette was quiet and kept to herself. I knew her family was humble and had limited resources. Which is why I was stunned when she turned to me and gave me a full-size chocolate bar and said, “Merry Christmas!” Before I could say thank you and give her a hug, she was out the door.


I placed the chocolate bar in my purse, began cleaning, and headed home.


As I walked into the house, there were presents under the tree. I stooped down to look at them and chuckled. They all looked like a hyena had wrapped them. Wrinkled and disheveled, with an absence of straight corners and folds, they nonetheless had a bow and tag.


I put my things down at the kitchen table and took out the chocolate bar. Smiling thoughtfully as I ran my fingers along its length, I couldn’t bring myself to open it. This simple gift and act of generosity was moving beyond words. I went to the Christmas tree and placed it amidst the branches at eye level.


“Oh hey! I didn’t hear you come in. I went ahead and did some wrapping for you. I know you had a lot to do and still wanted to do some baking tonight,” my husband said as he entered the living room.


“I saw. Thank you so much. I did have a chuckle at your skills though,” I said.


“Well, it all gets ripped in the end, right?”


“I appreciate the gift of time, even if they do look like a wild animal wrapped them. Now I don’t have to stay up as late.”


“At your service,” he said with a flourish as he bowed in jest.


Before I called my kids downstairs to help me with the baking, I glanced at the chocolate bar. The surrounding lights made the lettering glisten, and if I’m honest—it made my eyes glisten too.


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