Bob was a young father frantically wrapping presents three days before Christmas when his 6 year old Daughter Katie ran in asking for a box. Hardly glancing up he managed to pull a good sized box from his wrapping pile. “No,” Katie said. “That’s not big enough. I want the biggest box you have.” “Why do you want that box?” “Because it’s a very big surprise.” “O.K.,” Daddy muttered. “I hope this is important.” “Oh…it is,” Katie replied. “But now I need some paper.” Bob reached for the closes roll. “Uh-uh,” Katie insisted. “I need that pretty gold stuff.” “Uh-uh,” Daddy replied. “That ‘pretty-gold-stuff’ cost $15.00 a roll. The only reason we got it was to help the little boy next door with his school fund-raiser.” “I don’t care,” Katie responded. “I want the nicest paper you have for this present. It’s a very special big surprise.” “Ok” Bob replied, “But be careful. Save me some…I need it.” There were still a lot of presents for him to wrap. Katie disappeared into her room for almost three hours…and when she returned to Daddy’s table, she handed him her “biggest-box,” wrapped in gold paper…and wrapped in gold paper…and wrapped in gold paper. “Didn’t save me any, did you?” No…I needed it all,” Katie replied. “It’s for you. Open it now, Daddy. Open it now.” “But, it’s not Christmas for three more days, Katie. Why open it now?” “Because I’m too excited to wait. It’s really special.” Bob tried to gently peel off the expensive paper a corner at a time. Maybe he could salvage a little of it for future use. But it was no use. Katie had used enough scotch tape to repair the hull of the Titanic. Daddy tore away the expensive paper and opened the box. There was nothing in it. “Katie,” her father asked. “Why did you use this big box and all this fancy paper…and then give me a box that’s empty?” “Oh, it’s not empty, Daddy,” Katie replied, “I spent all afternoon blowing kisses into it for you. This box is full of how much I love you.” Remember the time you spend enjoying the gifts of Christmas, is more important than the time you spend wrapping them.
Inside this box is a little Christmas magic. Can you guess what it is? Some ancients wore it around the neck to ward off disease. The Japanese were convinced that it would increase crop growth. Italian peasants believed it offered protection against fire. The early American colonists would put it under their pillows to induce dreams of happy days to come, and the Swiss shot it out of the trees with arrows for good luck. Today, we might not believe it drives away evil spirits, or roll back prices, or solve the energy crisis, but it sure does enliven dull Christmas parties. Have you guessed it? We call it Mistletoe and it carries with it one of my most favorite Christmas traditions: if you walk underneath it, be prepared to pucker up. This Christmas, Be the Santa in you and remember, public displays of affection this time of year are not only endorsed but encouraged. Merry Christmas.
Becki was four. She wanted to play that December afternoon but Mother pushed her aside. “Becki I’m too busy today. There are presents to buy and cakes to bake and rooms to clean. It’s Christmas time you know.” So Becki played alone. When Daddy came home she rushed to the door with arms outstretched. ready for her usual hug and kiss. But Daddy’s arms were already full of boxes and bags. “OOoo for me?” she gasped. “NO... for later. It’s Christmas you know. Run along now.” So Becki played along. At supper both Mommy and Daddy were so busy talking and planning the Christmas celebration what with Grandma and Grandpa and all the relatives coming over, that Becki couldn’t get their attention. So she reached for the butter by herself. Somehow her elbow got all tangled up with her milk glass and over it went. “Oh Becki... not tonight,” Mommy moaned. Everything is so busy...it’s Christmas time! Run on to bed now. I’ll be there in a minute to help you say your prayers. “ She was already kneeling when Mommy walked in. Becki’s prayer was simple. “God forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us.” Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season keep you from the spirit of Christmas. This Christmas be the Santa in you. Merry Christmas.
Many years ago, just outside of Mexico City, a local padre started a custom of encouraging the villagers to bring flowers on Christmas Eve to fill the town square. One year, as hundreds of locals brought their tokens of celebration a tiny eight year old girl, Josephina, stood beside the roadway, watching the procession. Her tears flowed in grief as she watched the townspeople pass - their arms full of blooms. When the padre saw her he picked her up and asked why she cried on such a joyous day. She sobbed that she had no money for flowers to join in the gift giving. The resourceful padre set her down and bade her pluck the tall plant that was right at her side. She protested, “It’s a weed. I want flowers.” To which he replied, “It is always honorable, little one, to give what you have to give.” Josephina shrugged uncertainly. But at his insistence she joined the parade. The closer she walked to the town center, the more people took note of her gift. It seemed to all who saw it to be the most beautiful flower of all. The perfect symbol of Christmas beauty. And from that day until now, it is said that the poinsettia has been the best loved Christmas flower in that land where it grows so plentiful. This Christmas, open your eyes and see the simple beauty that surrounds you. Merry Christmas.
On Christmas morning some years ago, a small village outside of Napoli had set up for the day’s celebration. Just before ten A.M. the first families began showing up and to their dismay noticed that the small statue of me, all painted in red, was missing from the decorations for the festival. As the families streamed in, a frantic search ensued. What pranksters or scrooge would do something like this? No one was sure, but one fact was certain, someone had stolen their Santa. Then, just before eleven o’clock, a seven year old boy, Paolo, appeared pulling a brand new wagon and in the wagon was the missing statue. “Paolo!” exclaimed one of the farmers. “Where did you find Santa?” “Oh, I didn’t find him,” said Paolo, “I took him.” When asked why, he replied, “Well, I asked Santa for a new wagon, and I promised that when it came, I’d give him the very first ride.” Merry Christmas, and I never got to say it, but, thanks for the ride Paolo.