For a bit of background, we were officially missionaries from 1982-2020, when we retired. Over 36 years of that time, we lived in Spain. Our children were small in the eighties and nineties.
Those were times when packages usually came by boat, meaning that some came quite early—kudos to churches that did Missionary Christmas in July. Some came very late, like in the spring. Of course, being on the receiving end, we never knew if anyone had sent any surprises or not, so we never expected anything and were delighted if and when anything arrived.
Back in those days, import customs taxes were handled differently. I believe we only paid high taxes on one item, and I can’t remember what it was. Nowadays, however, it is better to send a gift card or money to missionaries in Spain, as it will cost them as much or more to receive the gift as it cost you to send it. Sad, indeed. (Note: Always ask your missionary what the situation is in his country before spending your time and hard-earned money to send them something he might have to sacrifice to receive.)
Oh, how we—especially our children—loved those boxes! It didn’t matter if they arrived in January or March. It was Christmas all over again. The delight on our children’s faces was worth every penny spent—and the long boatride across the ocean. Sometimes, people even included books, CDs, and post-its and other goodies for my husband and me. We felt loved.
Gifts are especially important for children. I was in dollar store the other day and spent a whopping two dollars on two gifts for our grandchildren. They will love them. And, they will feel the love. They won’t know where I bought them or that I spent only a dollar on each. It is the thought and the gift that count. Shh! Don’t tell. They will be delighted on Christmas Day.
I know that some Christians are against the commercialization of Christmas, and I totally understand. Some don’t exchange gifts at all. Other families draw names. People have the freedom to decide how they will or won’t celebrate Christmas.
For our family, especially when we were abroad and not with the children’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, we felt we needed to have two especially festive holidays a year. What better than Christmas and Easter—celebrating Jesus’ coming and His resurrection?
We would go with our co-workers, dig up a tree—not allowed to cut trees, there—and string lights. I always put up at least one manger scene in our home. I even had a small one in the kitchen. We taught our children about Jesus and giving and the wise men. Our co-workers usually hosted a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day meal. It was a happy time.
As for gifts, we enjoyed another Christmas whenever they arrived.
Jesus is the Best Gift ever. We don’t know when He arrived. December 25 probably isn’t the actual day. The date is a tradition that began many years after His birth. But, the truth is, Jesus came to earth as a Baby. He was born to Mary. Shepherds worshipped Him that night, and Herod later sought to kill Him.
The Bible says, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Salvation is a gift from God. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
As with any gift offered, salvation through Jesus must be received. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
Think about it. Have you received the Gift of Christmas: Jesus? Do you possess the gift of salvation from your sins?
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.