When I was a young boy – 8 years old – my classroom had a gift exchange. We were instructed to buy a gift for under $5.00. If a student was a girl, she would buy a girl gift. If a student was a boy, he would buy a boy gift. My mom found the note from my teacher in my book bag and took me to Sears Department Store. Basically, Sears was the local “everything” you need store from shoes to hammers. In front of the store was a chocolate cover peanut machine. For $.05 I could buy a whole bag of my favorite treat. I loved going to Sears for simply the peanuts!
Mom and I purchased a gift – I can’t even recall what we bought – wrapped it and marked it strategically with the words “BOY.”
The gift exchange took place during our Christmas party. Several of the moms – including mine – brought homemade cupcakes and cookies. We had red punch, and we each got a candy cane from our teacher.
Each student held a gift and our teacher did a count down for us to rip into our packages. Paper, ribbon, and tape flew as 27 4th graders hurriedly opened presents. The reality of a $5.00 gift to children in the 1960’s was exciting, fun, and a big deal!
One of my best buddies, Michael, looked carefully at his gift. The gift was not new. It had been wrapped in brown grocery bag paper. It wasn’t in a box and had no ribbon. The toy he held was worn from hours of play – a yellow Matchbox Superking Capri toy car – with most of the yellow paint peeling off.
The teacher paused. The moms looked around the room.
All the other children had new toys, but this gift. It was a used, old toy. We all stared.
Michael smiled really big and turned to one of the other little boys in the classroom, “Wow, Steven! But this is your favorite car of all times! I can have it? Really?”
The value of the gift is in the heart of the giver.
No one would have expected a King to arrive in a manger, born in a stable with livestock. And probably if we had unwrapped baby Jesus and viewed Him simply by the appearance of His surroundings, would we have known His value to us? Would we have known His sacrifice? Could we have understood the depth of love God shared with us in giving His only Son?
Take a moment to cherish the gift …” lying in a manger.”