As we’ve gotten older, and our extended families have grown, we’ve changed the way we do Christmas. One side of the family draws names now, and the other doesn’t give gifts at all. We just get together for a meal and play games, enjoying each others’ company.

Regardless, I am a person who loves gift-giving. I actually really enjoy finding gifts that I think others will like, something not necessarily expensive, but special, that will speak directly to their heart. When I was a kid, I used to like making “coupon books,” as gifts. They didn’t cost me anything but the time to make them, but they promised acts of service, or inexpensive physical gifts that would be given at the time of the recipient’s choosing. Later, Kevin and I used to give them to each other early on in our marriage, when money was tight. In fact, they were the forerunner to the $10 gift exchange that we instituted one such year, committing to be as creative as possible with a $10 spending limit. Those years ended up being some of our favorite, which goes to show, of course, that it’s not about the money at all.

I ran across a book that I’ve given to a couple of young families this year, as an early Christmas gift. It’s called The Sparkle Box, and the story revolves around a little boy who spies a mysterious sparkly gift box on his family’s mantel. Throughout the season, the family performs random acts of kindness, and when he’s finally allowed to open the gift Christmas morning, he finds slips of paper listing those acts. His parents explain that those are their gifts to Jesus, for He said that when you give to “the least of these,” you are giving to Him.

As you are busy buying and wrapping your gifts this year, imagine that you have a sparkly box under your tree with Jesus’ name on it. How will you fill it? While we all like to receive the occasional extravagant gift, it’s never really about the money. I think you’ll agree that when someone simply does something nice for you, especially when it’s unexpected, it has its own brand of extravagance. It shows that someone is thinking about you, perhaps at a time when you feel like no one is. It’s a deposit into the bank of your heart.

And it’s a deposit into the heart of Christ…something special that would fill a sparkle box and make the perfect gift for Him.


‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ~ Matthew 25:40 NIV