A grandfather lived a thousand miles from his nine grandkids. On December 1st he wrote a generous check to each of them. “This year you can buy your own present,” he wrote on the cards, then popped them in the mail. Christmas came and went. January passed. He wondered why he hadn’t heard from the grandkids. Then he moved some papers and found nine checks. He’d forgotten to put them in the cards. Imagine those grandkids receiving grandpa’s cards saying, “This year you can buy your own present.”

Speaking of presents, we want to wish a Merry Christmas to Mary Christmas of Fork, Utah. The former Mary Young married Brian Christmas, so she will hear plenty of jokes this month, I’m sure. It was Mary’s cousin who set up the date with Brian. She thought it would be hilarious if Mary Young ended up being Mary Christmas. The two became engaged on Christmas Day when Mary opened a present and found a ring in it! They were married on St. Patrick’s Day.

Having the last name Christmas is not all fun and games though. Brian’s grandma was once detained in a department store. The clerk thought any check signed by Joy Christmas was a joke or fraudulent.

That first Christmas wasn’t very merry for Mary and Joseph. Those were dark times. Historians say the infant mortality rate was 30%. Mary was young, unmarried, facing possible rejection from family and community. When the emperor’s decree came telling them where to go, I imagine Joseph saying, “Come, Honey! I’ll take good care of you. You’ve always wanted to travel.” But no airline lets you fly that late in your pregnancy, so they chose a donkey. No inn lets you check in without a reservation, so they found a stable. For this child, there was no sanitary maternity ward, no heater blowing warmth, no balloons and fuzzy blankets. We’re told that she wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Creator became the creature. The invincible became vulnerable. The powerful weak. Fragile. Hungry. Poor. Why? He became like us to save us. No distance was too far. No price too high. He would give his life as a ransom for many. He loved us that much.

So trim that tree and carve that turkey. Give those gifts and send those checks. Help those who need what God has given you. And never lose the wonder.

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