Unexpected Gifts

Christmas gifts. The best ones are unexpected.

Like Christmas 1998 when I had just completed grad school and most of the kids were still in college. All of us were broke so we decided to get creative. Which usually means cheap. Anyway, I’m sure we weren’t expecting much.

Char and I gave family recipe books, including entrees with titles like Dad’s Chicken Pot Pie and Jon’s Favorite Casserole. I’m guessing these are among the few of my Christmas gifts my children still own.

Son Josh gave son-in-law Derek a cowboy hat, a high-end cowboy hat. May not seem like much, but, for this Californian on his first trip to Texas, it was the perfect gift.

Charlotte had lost the diamond in her wedding ring a few years earlier and, as a result, no longer wore it. Someday, we’ll replace it, we told ourselves. But, surely, someday wouldn’t be this Christmas. Until that fall I met an old friend who had become a jeweler. The stone turned out nicer than the original, almost as brilliant as the smile of its surprised new owner.

Maybe the best present was the one son Jeremy gave his brother Jon. Some years earlier, in a broke, desperate-college-student moment, Jon had sold his favorite guitar. Jeremy found it, bought it back and sat it under the tree.

There were no dry eyes that Christmas. Because the best gifts are unlooked for, unsought, unexpected.

Like the gift of the Christ-child in the manger. Unexpected because it was undeserved.

Lord, help me be like You, a giver of unexpected gifts. And not just on Christmas.

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