Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Is three years old too young to master generosity?

 

Here are Carol and me as grownups. This story is about a gift she gave Jesus long before.

At three years old, my sister Carol knew what she wanted for Christmas.  She wanted to give her best gift to Jesus. But she struggled.

Our Sunday School teacher had planted the gift idea in Carol's mind.

"I want you to think about giving Jesus a toy, a doll, or anything that you really love. We will give your special gift to a boy or girl who doesn't have any toys." Carol, I'm sure, had a slightly different take on the teacher's words. She took them literally: "Give your special gift to Jesus."

As a seven-year-old, I thought differently about our teacher's request.  I began culling all my possessions until I found something suitable, not precious, acceptable but not special. I wrapped my gift, mentally checking off my to-do-list, and laid it on the shelf.

"What are you going to bring?" I asked Carol. "It's a surprise." She used that word to describe all sorts of things, strange and otherwise. I had no clue what she meant this time.

Soon I noticed she was quieter than usual. At night I heard her cry out alternately "No" and "Yes." She would clutch and then push away an object which I knew she loved.

A tattered yellow blanket--was this what she was preparing to give? /The push and pull continued night after night. 

One morning Carol placed the blanket in Mother's hands. "Help me, Mommy. I want to give this to Jesus." Mother washed it, wrapped it, and set it on a shelf. 

"This is beautiful, and so are you."

The Sunday before Christmas, at Sunday School, we lay our gifts at the foot of the big Christmas tree. Carol's tears were gone, and her struggles were over. She was beaming. And I learned a lesson I'll never forget.

Giving our best to Jesus, no matter what it looks like, is the best thing we can do.



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