For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
“You remember that ‘special present’ we got mom that Christmas when we were kids?” my sister, who now lives in California, asked me when we spoke on the phone earlier this year. “Guess what I found as I was cleaning out the closet?”
Yes. I remembered as I recalled our conversation.
It had been so many years ago when the world was very different, but so were we. “We” at that time were three children – a brother and two younger sisters – all between the ages of 7 to 11, and it was our first “major shopping excursion” for the upcoming final holiday of the year.
We had pooled our savings (also known as “allowances”) and amassed the astronomical sum of about five dollars and decided, after consulting with dad, to spend it all for our mother.
We weren’t sure what the special gift would be, but trusted that when we saw it, we would know. For the reader, you must remember that we were children who believed (and still do) that God would answer our prayers.
There was no doubt.
The year was 1951, and America was at its finest… World War II was won, housing was booming and jobs, abundant. It was no wonder that the majority of Americans felt secure and safe.
Our father listened to our plan and agreed to take us downtown the forthcoming Saturday and accompany us (from a distance) as we shopped. But – and we insisted upon this condition – he would not have anything to do with our decision. Like I said, we were children.
The day came, and none of us could eat all of our breakfast.
The excitement was centered on what was about to happen. (If we had not been so absorbed, we probably would have seen mother and dad exchanging glances as she smiled at him, and he grinned).
Finally, the time had come.
We dressed warmly in preparation to face a weather system that had dropped both white precipitation and temperatures, kissed mom goodbye and sat in the back seat as our father drove downtown.
Winds whipped down the streets, blowing the freshly fallen snow into shoppers as they trudged through the salted sidewalks and sludgy streets.
Scarves were tightly knotted around heads and necks to hold some semblance of heat as prospective customers darted from one store after another, seeking gifts for exchange on Christmas day.
As always, the Salvation Army’s bucket was bravely manned by volunteers, ringing the bell bidding the old year a final farewell while getting ready to welcome in the new.
Did we take all that in as we entered the largest department store in the town (followed by Dad) and made our way to the women’s apparel and sundries? Probably not: we had a mission to accomplish.
I somewhat remember what happened next as we went to various sections of the department, found our price range of items, looked at them, and then, after realizing it wasn’t “the gift” we were seeking, venturing to another set of clothes, jewelry and what-nots.
We soon discovered that our budget was limited, and frustration was evident since we were unable to make a unanimous decision.
But, finally, after what seemed to have been hours (although in reality it was probably less than an 60 minutes) the three of us wandered into an area of the department filled with all that glitters, shines and speaks of feminism.
“This is beautiful,” my youngest sister drooled. My oldest sister was already busy looking over everything and trying to draw our attention to something she had discovered.
“I think I found it!” she exclaimed.
We scrambled over to where she was and gazed in wonderment, silent for a few seconds. It was in our price range, and we agreed that it was the most beautiful gift we had ever seen.
Dad agreed. Mom would love it. And we went away as three children, proud of selecting the most perfect gift in the world!
Christmas morning arrived, and we could barely contain ourselves as we forced down our traditional breakfast prior to going to the present-laden foot of the tree.
Following our annual protocol, we “ooh…ed and ahh…ed” at the exposed, larger gifts and then proceeded to unwrap – each individually – the presents until only one remained, Mother’s.
The most perfect gift in the world!
It seems as if it were yesterday rather than half-century ago. She was seated in her chair as Dad reached down and handed the package to her. Her three children held their collective breaths, anticipating the reaction.
Mother smiled as she looked at us and then began removing the covering until it was revealed, and tears mixed with joyful laughter flooded her face.
At this reaction, my two sisters and I were confident the right choice had been made. She had in her possession “the most perfect gift in the world”!
And that’s what I remembered from that Christmas so many years before.
Up until the call from my sister, I wasn’t sure what happened to the gift after that day (what do you do with perfection?).
You can imagine how many things had changed since that day, including this allegorical story that transcends from the gift earlier to its meaning 50 years later.
What happened to effect mother’s reaction of tearful joy when she unveiled the contents of her three children’s “most perfect gift” to her on that Christmas morning?
What did she see?
What mesmerized her son and two daughters to unanimously select this present?
Surprise! A purple, velvet purse with a golden clasp!
It’s strange how God can allow seemingly obscure events to mature over time to glorify Jesus in the most unorthodox ways. He created such a paradox for me through this story of the purple purse with the gold clasp.
Three children (traditional three wise men) were led by their father (God) to bring presents to celebrate the birth of His Son (Christmas) which they presented to their mother (Mary) for Jesus. The gifts signified Heavenly royalty (purple velvet and gold) for the eternal Savior.
What we didn’t realize on that day from the past was that we were attempting to emulate in our infantile stage of life what God had already done: giving what we believed was the perfect gift for someone we loved dearly.
But He was giving His only Son to us ….
Jesus Christ, the most perfect Gift!