Authors: CONNIE NEAL
The Very Best Gift
Mun Gode Press 2012
Table of Contents
A HEARTWARMING STORY COLLECTION
This little book is
meant to be read
around Christmas time or given as a gift.
sure to make you and your listeners smile, feel encouraged, and wonder in amazement. You may laugh or even shed a tear, but
sure to lift your spirits. I originally
this collection as a talk for Christmas teas. The
loved it, but kids and teens who’ve heard the stories also beg to hear them again and again every Christmas.
, I’ve decided to wrap them up and present them to you and yours in hopes they will make your Christmas season merry and bright.
CHRISTMAS HOPES & DISAPPOINTMENTS
For most of us – especially children –
the most wonderful time of the year.
time for friends and family to come together for festive parties and special meals.
a time for gift-giving and receiving, for special treats and beautiful music – the strains of which bring back happy and sacred memories. Anticipation grows with each day marked by the Advent calendar or counting down the days until Christmas Eve when Santa will make his way miraculously down the chimney – even in homes that have no chimney – to leave a lovely assortment of presents under the Christmas tree. It is a season of beauty with lights adorning houses, cities, and Christmas trees both humble and grand. Christmas is the time to give
Glory to God
Peace on Earth to those on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14).
Christmastime also brings with it stresses and strains. As the Christmas season approaches, the holiday machine whirrs into motion. Just as the lights begin to twinkle in the darkness, holiday decorations appear – sometimes
early – Christmas music is piped in and shoppers begin to bustle. Most of us find ourselves busy shopping for just the right gifts and searching for the perfect tree, juggling calendar dates, work, and family expectations.
While the Christmas season rekindles childlike hopes, our hearts may warn that Christmas hopes can give way to disappointment. Even Jolly ol’ Saint Nick can fall short of expectations (especially if you happen to see him passed out drunk on the floor at the company Christmas party) and the image of the perfect Evergreen you saw in the magazine or at Rockefeller Center (on TV) only puts your poor tree to shame.
maybe you don’t even have the energy or motivation to put up a tree this year. You may hope for happy family times, while fearing that __________ may ruin the celebration – nearly every family has at least one relative whose personality flaws or addictions threaten to disrupt the picture-perfect holiday we envision.
At Christmastime, the contrast between the projected image and childhood memories of what the season promises and the reality in which we find ourselves can lead to depression.
This is especially true if Mom or Dad is still unemployed, your child has her heart set on a gift way beyond your budget, the mortgage isn’t paid, the dog died, your marriage may not make it to the New Year, someone in your family is sick or suffering, some tragedy struck at this time of year, your loved one is serving in harm’s way, or any less-than-joyful circumstances that await down your chimney – if you even have a chimney!
Christmastime may be “the most wonderful time of the year” but the holiday season is also when we feel loss, deprivation, or distance from loved ones most keenly.
Where in the world do we find the JOY?
This little collection of stories
in hopes of helping you REJOICE! Regardless of your pressures this holiday season, I hope it will help to put disappointments in their place, to make your season bright, and see that you receive
The Very Best Gift
The stories you are about to read – while sometimes miraculous – are true.
I consider it part of my role, as the Mom in our family, to help everyone rejoice at Christmastime. To rejoice means to gladden the heart. I like to think of rejoice as meaning to “re-joy” – that is to recall joy from times past and share those joys with each other to increase today’s joy. Sometimes I have to be very creative to bring this about, but we mothers have our ways.
WHAT IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
This is a picture of our family’s Christmas card back in 1998 when my oldest daughter, Casey, was 14, our son, Taylor, was 10, and our youngest, Haley, was 8. I like to get our family talking around the dinner table. That year I asked each person to answer the question, “What is the best gift you ever received?”
You probably know that getting a family to sit down over dinner these days and have a meaningful conversation is no easy task.
, I added a little competition. They were to each think of the best gift – preferably a Christmas gift – they ever received. After everyone had told their best gift, their dad would pick the one
he thought was the best and give a little prize. Their faces set in concentration as they sifted through their memories trying to come up with the winner, the
I will tell you the stories of each of the gifts they chose as their best gift and reveal
The Very Best Gift
at the end of this little book.
Each of their answers was remarkable.
CASEY’S BEST GIFT: THE TEDDY RUXPIN STORY
Teddy Ruxpin, Circa 1986
We started with the eldest to give the younger kids more time to think about their answer. Casey chose Teddy Ruxpin, the first-ever singing and talking robotic teddy bear. Teddy Ruxpin debuted in 1986 when Casey was two years old.