Lily’s Christmas Present

Lily’s special Christmas gift

Lome Louw

Illustration: Helena van der Nest

Only a few more days before Christmas! Each Christmas it is Lily’s task to decorate their family Christmas tree. What is more: she makes the decorations herself! This year she decided on baking heart shaped cookies  with ribbons on  each cookie in order to hang it on the tree. She hopes the decorations will last till Christmas… sometimes she is very tempted to eat one of these decorations!!

Wimmie is Lily’s younger brother. And he is very curious about Lily’s decorations. He is so tempted to remove a cookie from the tree.

“No Wimmie, wait. Here is a broken cookie that you can have. I made ten decorative cookies that I want to hang on the tree: one cookie for each day before Christmas. Each day we can remove one cookie and eat it. That way we will be able to know exactly how many days before Christmas comes.”

Mommy comes to have a look at Lily’s beautiful Christmas tree and she likes Lily’s idea with the cake decorations. Mom starts packing Christmas presents under the tree. Lily reads one of the cards: “For Lily, with love from Uncle Jacques and Aunt Ronel”. They live abroad, but each year they send Christmas presents to both Lily and Wimmie. These are mainly small presents, but they are oh so very special! Last year Lily got a signet ring and Wimmie a HotWheels toy car.

“Mommy, Uncle Jacques and Auntie Ronel goes to such a lot of trouble to send us our Christmas presents each year. Why do we give each other gifts at Christmas time?” wondered Lily.

“Dear Lily, each day, with everything it brings, is a gift from God. The sun shining outside, our warm house, the lovely food cooking on the stove, your nice bicycle, Mommy, Daddy and Wimmie’s love for you… All these are gifts from God. But there is more. God gave his biggest, biggest gift to us when He gave us his only Son, Jesus Christ. Do you understand this, Lily?”

“I understand the gifts we receive each day, Mom, but how did God give Jesus to us and how does that fit with Christmas presents?” Lily asked once more.

“At Christmas time we celebrate the day on which Christ was born on earth in a humble stable many years ago. All this was part of God’s plan in order to make it possible for us to go to heaven, even though we make wrong choices.”

“But we should rather give presents to Jesus and not to each other?” Lily replied.

“Actually you are right, Lily. That is what we should do. But now we give gifts to one another to celebrate Jesus’ birth and also to demonstrate our love for each other as Jesus loves us. It will be quite difficult to buy Jesus a gift, don’t you think? What would you buy Jesus if you could, Lily?” 

Lily becomes pensive. She knows what she would like to give to Jesus: she would like to give Him her heart, because she knows that this would give Him joy! When Jesus is in her heart, she needs not be afraid of anything or anybody, not even the dark! When He lives in her heart, she would be able to do the right thing and she needn’t be afraid that she would get into trouble. But how will she give Jesus her heart for Christmas? How will she get it to Him? It will be very difficult…

Suddenly Lily gets a bright idea: if she cannot give Him her heart, she can at least give Him joy!

For the ten days before Christmas Lily gives people around her small gifts in order to give Jesus joy.

10 days before Christmas: she tells Wimmie a bed-time story.

9 days before Christmas: she makes Mom tea without her asking Lily to do so.

8 days before Christmas: she washes the dogs’ food and water bowls.

7 days before Christmas: she waters the garden for Daddy

6 days before Christmas: she asks Wimmie that they refrain from eating that day’s cookie, but rather give it to Maria, their domestic worker.

5 days before Christmas: she picks one of Mom’s roses and gives it to their next door neighbour.

4 days before Christmas: she freezes a bottle with water and gives it to their gardener before he gets on the bus home.

3 days before Christmas: she tidies her cupboards. Maria is overjoyed.

2 days before Christmas: she asks Mom’s help and types a Christmas letter to Uncle Jacques and Aunt Ronel and sends it via e-mail.

1 day before Christmas: she paints a paper heart for each family member and cuts it out.

Christmas at last! There is a pile of Christmas presents under the tree and Lily notices that each gift has been wrapped with love. She cannot help but wonder whether Jesus liked her gift of the past ten days.

Mommy lays a beautiful table and Grandma and Grandpa comes over for dinner. Lily places her paper hearts on each one’s plate. Granny says her heart is her best ever Christmas gift and Mommy puts hers on the fridge door, while Wimmie draws on the back of his heart. Daddy puts his heart in his Bible and Granddad hides his in his purse. He says that he will think of Lily each time he opens his purse. Lily enjoys giving gifts to others, but she cannot stop wondering whether Jesus likes her gift to Him.

That night Mommy reads Lily and Wimmie the Christmas story. Lily wishes she could give Jesus expensive gifts like those that the Wise Men brought Him.  She feels like crying because she reckons that her gift was not good enough. Jesus must be used to expensive presents. Mom sees something is bothering Lily: “What is the matter Lily dear? Why are you sad on Christmas day?”

Lily tells Mother about her gift to Jesus over the past 10 days. She also says that she wants to give her heart to Him, but that she did not know how to send it to Him. Mom puts Lily on her lap. “Lily, you did 10 wonderful things and you spread joy with every gift. If you gave all of us so much joy, just think of the joy you give Jesus. It is a much better gift than gold, frankincense and myrrh, because I don’t know whether Jesus could even use those. But the best news is that you want to give your heart to Jesus.” Mommy folds Lily’s hands together and starts to pray: “Thank you Jesus for all our Christmas presents we received today. But Jesus, Lily wants to give you a very special gift: she wants to give You her heart. Please come and stay in her heart. Thank you Jesus for all your love. Amen.”

And suddenly Lily feels that today she gave Jesus the very best gift she could. And the best of all is that it is free of charge!

Originally published in My Child and I, Summer 2014


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