By Joan Clayton
“Let’s count to three and open our presents.”
I had counted one more time to be sure each child had a gift. Each girl brought a gift for a girl and the boys a gift for a boy.
“ONE, TWO, THREE!”
The oohs and ahhs heard from children opening gifts plus the exuberance and excitement warmed my heart.
“Look what I got!”
“Wow, this is cool.”
“Look teacher, this is fun.”
I became a child again as I walked around my classroom joining in the enthusiasm so contagious in children. I waited until everyone had seen all the presents, giving them time to enjoy each one.
“Now it’s my turn,” I told them. “Everyone close your eyes while I pass out your gifts from me.”
Quietness settled over the room as 25 little cherubs put their heads down.
“Don’t peek,” I said, placing a carefully wrapped package in front of each child. I saw peeking eyes all over the place. Some looked between their arms, while others pretended with half-shut eyes.
“I’m ready. Open your eyes.” Shouts of joy echoed over the room. They tore away the paper in seconds and emptied the contents from the decorated boxes.
Who would have thought a new tablet, a box of crayons, new pencils, a book, some candy canes and a simple toy had brought such pleasure?
Immediately 25 little angels almost swept me off my feet with hugs and thank yous.
We learn a lot from children. When the followers came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his followers. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child” (Matthew 18:2-4 NCV).
Jesus also said in verses 10-11: “Be careful. Don’t think these little children are worth nothing. I tell you that they have angels in heaven who are always with my Father in heaven.”
As I dismissed the children for the Christmas vacation that day I noticed one little boy working diligently on something with his new crayons.
I reminded him not to miss the bus. “I’m almost finished,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Here, teacher. This is for you. We didn’t have the money to buy a present for you so I made something. I hope you like it.”
He handed me a sheet of paper from his new tablet. He had spent the last part of his party time working on this special gift for someone special. Tears filled my eyes as I saw what he had drawn. He had both of us holding hands and had written our names on each figure. Little red hearts filled the empty spaces and they seemed to be floating down from heaven. The bottom of his paper contained these words in bold second-grade printing:
“I Give You Me!”
What better gift could I ever receive from an adoring child … a gift of his heart’s adoration, one filled with unconditional love for me?
I saw Jesus in that lovable little person and I understood one more time the whole reason for Christmas. That memory reminds me once again this Christmas.
What can I give to the Christ Child? What can I give to the One who came to Earth to save me from eternal destruction?
I have nothing that is worthy of the King of Kings. I cannot work, give or even earn such a precious gift. In the light of his great sacrifice, his death on the cross … there is only one thing I can do.
Like my student, I want to draw a picture upon my heart, one of holding hands with God. On my heart I am writing,
“I Give You Me!”
Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: