“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9-11)

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Our family has many traditions: putting out the nativity scene before any other Christmas decoration, reading the Christmas story out of Luke, opening stockings, and taking turns opening gifts. Christmas is a big deal in our home! 

We begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving. My son, Jake, and I haul 29 trunks and large items out of the attic, and the transformation begins. The crèche and nativity are always the first to go up. In my family growing up and in my own family today the importance of celebrating Christ’s birth has always been the focus!

Just as the wise men brought special gifts, we have that practice in our family. The price is not the issue. It’s the impact on the receiver from the giver! These are usually family heirlooms or gifts that will touch the heart in a special way. The giver usually tries to maneuver the gift to be given last. Over the years these heirlooms have included my maternal grandfather’s watch given to me by my step-grandmother after his passing; my paternal grandfather’s Remington model-70 7mm magnum given to my nephew-in-law by my dad. These gifts help members feel a part of our family and its heritage.

I have 10 nieces. Jake is the only son of the only son of the only son. Not a lot of guys on my side of the family. My sisters told me after Jake’s birth that they had all prayed individually that I would have the son in the family.

Several years before he was born I did the Bible study Raising a Modern Day Knight. I wanted to be prepared should God bless us with a son. After Jake was born I decided that when it was financially feasible I would buy a sword for him and hold it for him until the time I would give it to him to acknowledge his transition into manhood. I was shopping in the mall with three of my nieces just before Christmas and found the perfect sword, a replica of the sword of the Templar Knights, but it unfortunately was out of my reach!

On Christmas morning I opened a package tagged: Merry Christmas from your three nieces. This is yours for safekeeping until you give it to Jake!  It’s hanging on the wall in my office. In the same way the wise men brought gifts for Jesus, my nieces blessed me with something priceless, something of value surpassing that Christmas. As I look back on that moment, I’m thankful for the example of the wise men and three wise nieces.  

 

John Cullen ministers to those who are hurting, either through illness or loss. He is passionate about helping men, women, and couples work through life’s issues, and ultimately leading the lost to Christ. John and his wife, Debe, have one son, Jake.