Good gifts

We just got home from John’s Sunday School class Christmas party. What a funny group of people.

The food was marvelous. The games hilarious. The singing delightful. And, the fellowship was outstanding.

This group always plays the “Dirty Santa” gift stealing game. (Does anyone have a better name for that game? I hate calling it “Dirty Santa.”) You have probably played the game too. Everyone brings a gift. Some are nice (but not expensive) and others are silly. The gift are wrapped so that no one knows what is inside. People are randomly asked to select a gift and they either take one of the wrapped gifts or they “steal” a gift from someone else. There is lots of laughing and good fun. And, tonight everyone was generous with the silly comments and stealing. It was all great fun.

But, the evening got me to thinking about a “Dirty Santa” game played at our local fire station years ago.

John is on the Board and the station had an annual Christmas party during which we played the game. Because it was the fire station crowd, many of the items were on that theme. There would be firemen ornaments and trucks. It was lots of fun.

One year, I was shocked to find large plastic fire trucks at Big Lots for $10 each. John and I were ready the night of the party. Our two large boxes were very plain and soon became used as tables to showcase other packages and gift bags.

The game started and finally, one of our boxes was selected. We were excited because the man who picked it out had a 3 year old son. As Dad removed the paper, the boy immediately saw what was inside. They opened the box and took out the truck. The truck was just the right size for the 3 year old to ride. John and I were excited to see father and son so happy.

And, then it all changed!! Someone stole the gift. The dad was disappointed, but the son was devastated – he was shocked. Someone else was carrying his fire truck away and his dad was helping them. Tears rolled down his little cheeks and his chin quivered as he tucked himself up into his dad’s chest. John and I felt so bad.

But, we could see the second truck still in the pile of gifts. While we waited nervously for one of our numbers to be called, we watched the dad and son. The little boy had lost all interest in the game. He just stayed in his dad’s lap with his face pressed hard against his father’s shirt. It seemed that neither son nor dad could imagine a way to repair his broken heart.

John and I kept monitoring the game. Every time someone went up to the pile of presents, we held our breath. And then it happened, one of our numbers got called. I honestly don’t remember the steps that we took, but soon John and I had traded the box enough that all we needed to get the second truck to the child was for the boy’s dad to steal the box from us.

We shouted to the dad “Steal from us.” The man, already burnt by this silly game, replied that he wouldn’t think of it. He could see that we had gone through elaborate steps to get this particular box and he didn’t like the idea of taking it from us. As we got more insistent, he got more  embarrassed. We finally laid it out for him, “If you take it from us, no one else can steal it. The rules of the game won’t allow it to be taken from you. Take it!! Take it now!!!”

The dad suddenly understood. With one quick action, he was able to replace the toy that had been stolen from his boy. He could make it right. He could stop the tears.

I don’t have a clue what gifts John and I got that night. It really didn’t matter to us. Our actions had let us help a dad put a fire truck into his son’s hands. No doubt that father and son would open more gifts later that Christmas, but on that night at that time, the wrong had been erased. The tears of a 3-year old had been stopped.

I wonder if God looked down at Mary and Joseph as they looked for a place to spend the night and smiled, knowing that the best gift was on the way. Maybe Mary cried that she didn’t understand why she wouldn’t be with family that night. Or, perhaps Joseph was frustrated and angry with himself for not getting to Bethlehem in time to secure a room. I wonder if, as they prayed, God replied “Hold on…the best gift is almost in your hands.”

God knows about giving good gifts to His kids.

The scripture says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

Need a miracle? Need a hand? Need a good gift? Talk to our heavenly Father and then listen to Him. Have no doubt – God loves His kids and He still answers prayers.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)



3 thoughts on “Good gifts

  1. Nobrega, Norberto

    Jill: thank you for the story; great as usual.

    Regarding the “dirty Santa.” I have never heard that but it makes sense. We use the phrase “white elephant gift exchange.” Evidently, the term “white elephant” refers to an extravagant but burdensome gift that cannot be easily disposed of, based on the legend of the King of Siam gifting rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, that they might be ruined by the animals’ upkeep costs.

    Merry Christmas.


    Norberto M. Nobrega
    Captain, United States Navy
    Commanding Officer, NROTC Unit Rochester
    Professor of Naval Science, University of Rochester
    Morey Hall 100, POB 270436
    Rochester, NY 14627-0436
    (585) 275-4276 (O)
    (954) 837-3009 (M)
    Facebook: Rochester Naval ROTC



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s