This is my favorite Christmas story from when my sons were little. This is also one of the first stories I ever got published. It was in a church Advent devotional and people still tell me how much this story meant to them that year. When I think of Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s the little slice of life moments like this that I share. All our lives have changed in the thirty-five years since this happened. Horrific things have happened to me and to our world. Yet God’s promise has never changed.

As we share our meals tomorrow with those we love and the memories of those no longer with us I hope each of you has that one perfect gift.

“Mom, you can open your present,” Justin exclaimed, “but only if you promise not to use it on me.” The festive Christmas package, proudly yet childishly wrapped, did little to conceal the shape of the present so carefully chosen by my four-year-old.

Justin’s eyes shone with excitement as he waited for the moment when I would unveil his treasure.

“See, Mom, they’re wooden spoons.  You need ’em to cook, but you gotta promise you won’t spank me with ’em.”

I can still see the earnest expression as he offered me his gift — with strings attached.  Though I continued, on occasion, to use wooden spoons to lovingly mete out his discipline, I never used those spoons.  Now, years later, the spoons are broken, or have been lost in moving.

God offered us His most precious treasure on Christmas morning. He wasn’t brightly wrapped, but Jesus will always be the most perfect gift received. That morning I reached for and opened the package under the tree, just as I accepted God’s salvation. The wooden spoons are only a memory now, but God’s gift is eternal. It cannot be broken, lost, or taken back. There really are no strings attached.