What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My favorite gifts always involve photos of my loved ones.

When our children were young, and we didn’t have a lot of money, my husband would secretly gather our children to make me a gift – a poster with photographs of each one with words of love written on it. These were often decorated with markers, sequins and chenille stems. I have 4 of them, given to me for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. If our house was on fire, I would grab them first as I ran out the door. They are precious to me.

As they got older, my oldest son Bryan and his wife, Megan, would gather the other three and go out for a photo shoot. These pictures were then framed and wrapped and given to me for Christmas or Mother’s Day. Also, something I would grab as I ran out the door of our burning house.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? Some of my favorite memories are of a time when I have given a gift that I knew hit the target perfectly. It was thoughtful, personal and precious to the recipient. I remember anxiously waiting and watching for them to open it up.

One, in particular, comes to mind - a crinkle-edged pastel drawing that my husband drew when he was 8 years old. I sent that poinsettia drawing off to be printed onto a canvas that would last for years to come. He loved it and it hangs prominently in our home.

Other gifts that brought squeals of delight come to mind – toys, bikes, phones.

Now, in the midst of Christmas shopping for a lot of people, I know that some of the gifts I’m buying will hit the target and some of them are just practical things that I know will be appreciated but not necessarily make the recipient ‘freak out’.

And, in the midst of all of these holiday traditions, we are reminded to remember why we celebrate Christmas. And, I do.

I remember that God gives me great gifts. He has given me life, a body that works miraculously every day, a family, dear friends, a fantastic career. He has given me a beautiful planet to live on – with water, air, and indescribable beauty to behold.

God has given me free will. To take whatever path I choose – right or wrong, good or bad, smart or foolish. I’ve probably been a little of each over the years.

But, most importantly, the Bible says God sent Jesus to us as a gift. In Luke 1:32, it says, “He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High.” In Romans 6:23, we are told, “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus is our way of living forever with God. And, until that day, we have His Holy Spirit speaking to us, guiding us, comforting us, and showing us the perfect path for our lives.

WHAT?!! I get a gift of eternal life! In a heavenly place beyond my imagining?!

Put a bow on it. I’ll take that! I pray the same for you. That you, too, are the recipient of this, the best gift ever.

Merry Christmas to you and to those you hold dear! May God’s presence be felt and evident in your life and in your home.

Sylvia Gaston is the director of Children's Ministry at Koinonia Church. Any comments can be sent to: sylvia@kchanford.com.

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