Christmas gifts from the heart

We’re not in as much need as New York City in the 1984 made-for-TV movie “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” starring Mickey Rooney. The city had no Christmas spirit and Annie Potts’ character, a reporter, couldn’t find one uplifting story for the Christmas Eve newscast.

However, reporters have brought us lots of hard-to-receive news this year. So, it was nice to hear an upbeat story focusing on the true meaning of Christmas on Sun., Dec. 13. Chris Denham, a husband and father of two young children, started out his talk to a Broomfield congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by quoting the English poet, Christian Rossetti.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would give Him a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man,
I would do my part,—
But what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Denham followed Rossetti’s poem with sharing “a treasured learning experience” from last Christmas. “I love gadgets!” he said. “If you ask my wife she will attest to drawers and counters covered in gizmos. I was really looking forward to Christmas morning as there was one present under the tree that had my attention. It was a relatively small box – the perfect size for an iPod. Kacey let it slip a few nights before Christmas that it was, in fact, an iPod under the tree.

“I was like a kid in a candy store wishing away the days until Christmas morning. Finally the moment arrived. After I waited patiently for the kids to open their presents I finally couldn’t take it anymore. With a nod from my wife I tore into the present. I was looking for a place to charge it when my little girl, Clara, grabbed my hand and placed in it a small gift. It had been wrapped with the loving care of small hands. It barely covered the contents of the gift and a whole roll of Scotch tape was used to make sure it was properly sealed.

“I put down my iPod and gently began to unroll the tape. I couldn’t help but notice the anticipation in Clara’s eyes as I got down to the prize. Inside was a craft she had lovingly made. She called it a birdhouse and you could tell hours were spent on it. In her small voice full of pride she said, ‘It’s for you, Daddy. Your very own birdhouse! Do you like it?’ Without hesitation I told her I loved it. I loved it more than any other gift, including my iPod. I loved it because it came from her heart and it touched mine.”

I looked around the congregation and saw several people with glistening eyes. A good feeling came over me as I heard this father tell of his love for his daughter.

Denham continued saying, “I can only imagine our Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, feeling much the same way I did when we offer gifts from our hearts. It is our Father and Brother looking down with pride as we shift our focus from those gifts of material consequence to those that have true meaning. So, what are these gifts from the heart? I’m sure there are many, but for our purpose today I will focus on four.”

Denham then talked about the gifts of service, faith, forgiveness, and perspective. He said: Our service would be to notice opportunities to serve and act on them with love in our hearts; Forgiveness may be difficult to give but can give us peace and freedom; Faith is one of the greatest gifts we can give our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; And, perspective helps us be happy as we never forget our gift of life.

Thanks to Denham for sharing his story and thoughts. Merry Christmas!

(I welcome stories from all religions as readers celebrate holidays of the season. Please comment on this story or contact me directly. My e-mail address is on my About page.)

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