What do you get for the woman who has everything (because she’s in heaven)?

AUDIO VERSION

At the beginning of this month, I pulled out the giant plastic bin of Christmas decorations that Priscilla had carefully maintained. When I opened the lid, one of the first things I found was the beautiful pair of Christmas stockings she’d made for us from the same fabric she’d used for the curtains and pillows in the living room. This posed a bit of a dilemma.

Should I just put up one stocking this year? Awkward.

No stockings? That didn’t feel like the holiday spirit.

So I decided to put both of them up and try to think of some appropriate “stocking-stuffer” for hers. It didn’t take me long to realize that I could do something in her memory and honor for those whom Jesus had called “the least of these.”

I hadn’t gotten much farther than that in my planning before I went to church this morning. I discovered an “angel tree” set up in our fellowship area. A refugee family had just moved in nearby and had approached the congregation for assistance. They hadn’t been able to bring much with them, and since they’d come from a country with a warm climate, they hadn’t had any winter clothes in the first place. Now the Michigan winter was approaching. Would we help?

On the tree were paper ornaments representing specific needs of the children, whose first names and ages were given. I saw that the two girls, aged 12 and 14, each needed winter boots. That made me think right away of a story Priscilla often told about Christmas.

One year, when she was a young teenager herself, she’d needed new  boots for the Quebec winter. She had her heart set on a pair that was sturdy, warm, and stylish. But her parents told her regretfully that there simply wasn’t enough money for them. She’d have to pick a cheaper pair (one that would presumably be somewhat inferior in those three regards).

On Christmas morning, there was a present under the tree for her that was the shape and size of a boot box. When she opened it, inside was the very pair she’d wanted! A relative had heard about the situation and provided the extra that was needed. She often cited this story as an early experience she’d had of God’s love and care.

In this light of this story, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate stocking-stuffer for Priscilla than to buy boots for some girls who were about the same age she’d been and who were in need. So I took those two ornaments and after church I went shopping. At one store I found just what I was looking for, pairs that met the feature “trifecta” of warm, sturdy, and stylish. The two different sizes I needed were available.

Then I saw a sign indicating that I’d caught the final day of a three-day sale: 20% off all clothing purchases. And when I checked out, the register issued a special coupon: $5 off any gift card purchase of at least $50. I figured this was probably designed to encourage customers to buy gift cards as presents for others. But why not buy one with the discount and use it personally on my next visit? “Hey, if I saw a five-dollar bill on the ground, I’d sure pick it up,” I told myself. So this was effectively a further reduction in the price. God had provided just the right opportunity for me to honor Priscilla in a meaningful way. But, I wondered, had He also liked the idea so much that He’d decided to go in on the present with me?

When I bring the boots to the church so they can be delivered to the family, I have to return the paper ornaments for tracking purposes. But I’ve made photocopies and tucked them into Priscilla’s stocking.

The original tags (borrowed for the photo-op) in Priscilla's stocking. (The his-and-hers brass reindeer were how we told our stockings apart.)
The original ornaments (borrowed for the photo-op) in Priscilla’s stocking. The his-and-hers brass reindeer were how we told our stockings apart.

 

Author: endlessmercies

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister and served local churches as a pastor for nearly twenty years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School. Dr. Smith answers questions about the Bible, particularly those that arise from the use of his study guides, at goodquestionblog.com.

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