There was a father who loved his children very much and he was willing to do whatever it took to make them happy. If they wanted something, he got it – nothing was too good or too expensive for his son and his daughter.
But no matter what he did, his children were not truly happy. Christmas was coming, but still his children had no joy. They complained and whined. They fought and called names.
The father sat in his easy chair one evening, thinking. Why can’t my children be happy? I have given them everything they could possibly want. What more can I do? Suddenly, a thought crossed his mind. Christmas was a time of joy; a time for giving gifts. All he had to do was to find the perfect gift and that would make them happy.
So, he went to the store and wandered up and down the aisles. He saw a frantic mother screeching at the clerk in the toy department. “You cannot be out. Every boy and girl in America is looking for a Tickle-me-Cabbage-patch-Tamagatchi-hand-held game this year. I must have one.”
That was it – the perfect gift that would make his children happy. He searched high and low at every store in his city searching for one. On Christmas Eve, just before the stores closed, when he was about to despair, he found one – a Tickle-me-Cabbage-patch-Tamagatchi-hand-held game, hidden behind some other toys. The last one in town. With a grin wider than the Mississippi he grabbed it, bought it, took it home, wrapped it carefully, and put it under the tree.
And the lady in the store was right. His son and daughter loved the toy. They jumped up and down and hugged him and ran around the room. We love you, daddy, you are the best! And the father who loved his children went to sleep that night with a smile on his face.
But his smile soon faded. He walked in one afternoon after work to hear the children arguing, and calling names. How angry they were. As he walked down the hallway, he noticed something else. There, in the corner, was a broken down, beat up, useless Tickle-me-Cabbage-patch-Tamagatchi-hand-held game.
A year went by and Christmas was coming again. The loving father sat in his easy chair wishing he could make his children happy and wondering what went wrong with last year’s gift. It must have been the wrong present. This year he was determined to get it right. He would find a gift for his children, one that would give them joy all year long.
At work one day he heard a man bragging about finding the hottest gift in the whole world this year – a Super MicroSegatendo X-Cube Wii360. That was it. Again, he searched high and low to find one. But there were no Super MicroSegatendo X-Cube Wii360s to be found anywhere. He kept on looking. And then, on Christmas Eve, just before the stores closed, he saw it. There, on the shelf, hidden behind some cheap games and dolls and balls, there it was. The last Super MicroSegatendo X-Cube Wii360 in town. With a heart of hope he bought it, and brought it home, wrapped it, and put it under the tree.
The whole block could hear the shrieks of joy that the children let out when they opened that gift. They jumped up and down and hugged their daddy and told him he was wonderful. And the father who loved his children went to bed with a smile on his face.
But this smile faded too. A few weeks after Christmas he walked in from work. He spoke to his son, but his son did not speak back. He spoke to his daughter, but his daughter did not speak back. They just stared blankly at the television, punching buttons and pushing joysticks as if in a trance. A few minutes later they were arguing over whose turn it was. They shouted and called names and the father’s heart was breaking. No, the Super MicroSegatendo X-Cube Wii360 was not the gift that would make his children happy.
As it always did, Christmas came again. The father who loved his children was determined that this would be the year – the year he would find the perfect gift and make his children perfectly happy. He started early. He shopped and listened, but he could never find that perfect gift. It was getting late on Christmas Eve as he wandered the aisles in a frantic search for something spectacular. In all the chaos, he noticed a lady working the counter with a broad, pleasant smile on her face. She seemed to be at peace while everyone else scurried around her. So the father who loved his children went to her and asked her help.
“I have been looking for the perfect gift,” he said. “I love my children, and I want to give them a gift that will make them happy for the whole year. Do you know what I can give them, ma’am? Do you know the perfect gift?”
The clerk nodded and smiled from ear to ear. “Sir, I know exactly what you need.”
The father who loved his children called them into the living room that night, but when they saw no gift wrapped under the tree, they were confused. There was not Tickle-me-Cabbage-patch-Tamagatchi-hand-held game or Super MicroSegatendo X-Cube Wii360 waiting to be opened. They look at their father and asked where their special gift was?
The father gathered his children around them on his easy chair; his daughter on the left and his son on the right. He pulled them close and said, “I love you two more than life itself. All I have ever wanted is for you to be happy. I have searched high and low for the perfect gift, the gift that would give you joy through all the year. And now, I have found it. I want to give it to you.” So the father who loved his children bent over and picked up a little leather book. He opened it and began to read. At first, the children were a little miffed. What kind of gift is this? A story? But, as the father who loved his children continued to read, their faces started to change. Anger became interest. Interest became enthusiasm. And enthusiasm turned to joy as they listened to the story, and as they received the perfect gift.
The father who loved his children gathered them in his arms and read,
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
This time, the smile on the face of the father who loved his children did not fade.