Natalie Grant, the contemporary Christian artist, was interviewed on this year’s special “Christmas with Will Graham.” She learned early in life that Christmas is about giving. Grant was raised in Seattle, and every other year, her family piled into a motor home and travelled from Washington to San Diego to visit grandparents.
The family had their little Christmas tree in their camper with that year’s presents underneath. As they travelled, they’d stop at campgrounds overnight.
At one campground, Natalie remembered seeing a silver Airstream trailer in poor condition parked next to theirs. Her father walked over to meet the campsite neighbors, and when he returned, he shared some shocking news.
“That family just lost their mom. She died of cancer. And they lost their house because the dad spent so much time with her. He lost his job so they’re living in the trailer,” her dad shared.
“So, we’re going to take our tree and take our gifts and we’re going to give them to this family” so they can have Christmas.
Natalie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. All year, six-year-old Natalie asked for a Baby Alive Doll. She had been waiting and anticipating, and now Christmas was near, and she couldn’t wait to open her presents and receive her new doll. She protested, “I don’t want to give my gifts away!” but to no avail.
In an instant, her dream vanished. She and her family carried the presents over and the tree and gave away their Christmas.
The little girl in the Airstream was about Natalie’s age. When she opened “the gift” (Natalie’s gift), she was thrilled to receive a Baby Alive Doll, Natalie’s Baby Alive Doll.
At that moment, at age six, Natalie began to understand that Christmas should be more about giving than receiving.
“It did something to me to see what it did for her to get that doll,” Natalie shared with Will.
Our celebration of Jesus’ birth gives a dramatic reminder that Christmas comes with a price. At Christmas, the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Then, 33 years later, that infant born in Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a feed trough, was brutally executed on a criminal’s cross to pay the price for our sins.
Christmas points to God’s sacrificial love. One of the greatest depictions of sacrifice is found in O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi.” A couple named Della and James wanted to give each other gifts for Christmas, but they only had $1.87 (roughly $62 in 2022 prices) with which to buy presents.
They had each other, and they each had a precious possession that was invaluable. James’ prized possession was a gold watch that belonged to both his father and grandfather. Della’s possession was her beautiful, long hair.
Unknown to one another, they each made a decision. On Christmas eve, Della cut and sold her hair, so she’d have enough money to buy a beautiful chain for her husband’s watch. She received $20 for her hair and purchased the chain for $21.
When James came home, he was startled beyond words at the sight of his wife without her long, flowing, beautiful hair. “You’ve cut your hair!”
“Jim, darling, don’t look at me that way. I cut my hair and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. I’ll grow it out again. I got you a really nice gift.”
Still stunned, James took a gift from underneath his overcoat and handed it to Della. She opened it and found the combs she had been admiring for months and months. The set of combs with pure tortoise shell with jeweled rims, exactly what she wanted to wear to accent her beautiful hair. She loved them and knew they were expensive.
Then she grabbed James’ present, and he opened it and saw the wonderful chain.
“James, give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it,” Della said.
Jim plopped down on the couch, and said, “I sold my watch to get the money to buy these combs.”
God’s special love often comes with a price. At Christmas, God gave His greatest treasure. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for more info and to view online worship. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings.]