I never have been one to get excited about Christmas gifts after I found out as a very young child that there was is no such thing as Santa Claus. I have to admit that I brought it on myself by being nosy.

My mom was happy the year that I found out because by this time in her life she was just worn out trying to shop and hide things from six growing children. All of us were two years apart.

Up until her death she remembered how terribly I behaved in the stores as she relied on my judgment to select items for my three younger sisters. The sales ladies tried to push toys and dolls off on her, and I rebelled. They did not realize that this was no time to fool around with a hurt and disappointed 8-year-old. I remember my mom smiling when I refused to take a doll for my younger sister that had dust on it from having been in the store for years.

My heart was hurt to the core by the truth, just as God is hurt to the core by us not accepting the gift that he has sent. We are very blessed because the present that our Father gave us came from a for-real place and from a for-real Father who knew exactly what we needed.

Several days ago, as my husband and I were discussing our morning devotion concerning the greatest gift, I reminded him that I still have some gifts given to me that are still unopened. His question was, “Why are they still unopened?” I said, “Because I have no need for them. They are just stuff to add to my already overloaded house of stuff.”

The greatest gift that we have ever been given is still unopened by many of us. It’s one that keeps on giving, year after year. This gift was sent to bring our salvation and redemption and is ever-overflowing.

To have a better understanding of what is in the gift sent by our Father thousands of years ago, all we need to do is open the road map that goes with it. Out of that gift will flow wisdom. Out of that gift will flow knowledge. Out of that gift will flow compassion, love, understanding, gentleness and kindness. Out of that gift will flow blessings and miracles and mysteries will be revealed — if only we would open it.

The Father who sent the gift did not do what we do, year after year. We rush out and grab something for friends or loved ones because we can get it at a special price. Our Father does not do what my mother did. He never gets tired and weary of giving us blessings because there are too many of us. He never searches for the inexpensive ones.

Our Father paid the highest price for the present that he gave us. He does not shop until he drops, in an attempt to find the right gift, and still end up getting the wrong color or style or size. He does not turn our blessings over to some else to give us. Our Father knows everything about us and never gives us the wrong color, style or size.

Our Father asks only one question — and that is why is the gift still wrapped and unopened on the shelf? He asks is giving you my only son to be sacrificed for you not enough to motivate you to open and taste, that you might get to know how good and pleasant it is to know and worship me?

Now that the gift-buying and wrapping and the cooking and eating are all behind us, can we see the error of our ways or will his gift remain unwrapped until the next Christmas season? How much of this year’s celebration included our Savior?

Yes, I know we said that prayer before eating that big unnecessary meal. We sinned unmercifully and kept on sinning by being gluttonous human beings for a day. We laughed with and about each other that special day, the day on which he was born for our sins. How would you like to be treated like that on your special day?

What part of the day was used to celebrate him? Yes, I know that, to clear our conscience, many of us went to church on Christmas Day thinking that to give him one hour would let us be able to say we celebrated Jesus’ birthday.

I am reminded of an experience of mine. Out of the six children, I am the only one who is not still in the close circle of home. Many of those years of being away, I returned home for the Christmas holidays. My birthday comes between Christmas and New Year, so the family would say let us give our sister a birthday party. Many of those years, they were so busy buying and shopping and cooking and inviting their friends for the celebration that they forgot to even sing happy birthday to me.

I think of that experience at Christmastime each year and smile. I have an idea of what Jesus must feel every year. I always say “Thank God for Jesus,” as my elderly aunt used to say when things went awry.

The Greatest Gift says I forgive you.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome. She is the founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc.

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