December 25, 2003
Wesley, Doncaster East
This is a story that goes back 60 years to 1944, when the use of radar was just beginning.
Dorothy’s brother, Don, had passed an aptitude test to determine his suitability for the newly emerging field. Even though he wasn’t quite eighteen, he was pressed into service and sent away to begin training.
Dorothy herself had moved away the year before to get work. Her parents found themselves all alone – for the very first time. They found that traumatic. They wanted Dorothy and Don home with them – especially for Christmas.
Dorothy went home to be with them. She tried her best to cheer her mum and dad up. But her mother, who adored Don, would have no part in what she regarded as artificial cheeriness. From her point of view it was going to be the grimmest Christmas anyone had ever had to face in all of human history. There was no cheer. There was nothing. Dorothy even began to wonder if there was any point in going home. Instead of being there with her parents to give them an upper for Christmas, it was just a downer for her.
The family had developed the custom of opening presents on Christmas Eve, but Dorothy’s mum decided that there really wasn’t any point in doing that. Don wasn’t going to be there. Dorothy says she can’t remember whether the decision was to postpone the gift-opening till Christmas morning or what, but it was certainly all doom and gloom.
About nine o’clock the doorbell rang. None of them could imagine who’d be ringing their bell on Christmas Eve that late. Dorothy’s dad went to see who it was. When he opened the door, there stood Don!
The atmosphere of gloom and doom evaporated. After that it was all joy.
Don had managed a 36-hour leave pass. He’d ridden home on an over-crowded train, standing most of the way. He’d have to go back at 6 o’clock on Christmas Day, but he was home with the family on Christmas Eve – and would eat Christmas dinner with them.
Don’s mum was upset that she’d sent his Christmas presents by mail and there’d be nothing under the tree for him – but he didn’t care. Just being together – that was the important thing.
Though Dorothy was 22 at the time, it was the first time she’d realised there’s more to Christmas than presents. She says there hasn’t been a Christmas since when she’s been hung up about having or not having a gift for someone else or whether they have a gift for her. What she learnt 60 years ago is that the best thing you can do for another person is to give the gift of yourself.
Deep down – despite the way we yield to the commercial hype of Christmas – we know that.
God knows that as well.
The Jewish people have known God for something like three thousand five hundred years.
In about the third century of their encounter with God, Moses found himself confronted by a personal vision of God on a mountain, not once but several times.
Between five and eight hundred years later the prophets were given – and delivered – God’s word to the people of Israel and Judah.
But in Jesus God gave himself not to a person, not to a nation, but to all humanity.
Christmas is the time we celebrate God giving himself to the whole world through Jesus.
Jesus: the best gift for everyone everywhere forever.
As with any gift, you’ll never know what the gift is until you unwrap it and accept it as your own. Make Jesus your personal best Christmas gift ever.
 Based on Dorothy Screeden’s story The Gift of Self in Ron DelBene, Mary & Herb Montgomery, Christmas Remembere. Upper Room Books: Nashville. 1991. pp. 62-3.