What was your favorite Christmas gift when you were a child? Think back. What was it and what did that gift mean to you? What message did you receive about yourself that you took into your heart? My favorite gift was a small stuffed elephant- “Dumbo.” He became my treasure. I think I was about six and still uncertain about Santa. I knew my grandparents would provide a new pair of flannel pajamas and slippers for my sister and me each year, and I never ceased to be excited about these presents. But our single-mom worked in a factory and there was just enough money for food, never an expectation for toys. Maybe a game, a book, or one year a wood-working hobby set; another year, a knitting kit- always gifts that could provide us with useful learning.
So the appearance of Dumbo was magical. And of course he could perform magical acts, like flying. I slept with Dumbo and kept him with me tucked into his special place on my bed- for years. Over time, he got raggedy and pretty dirty. But by then, my grandmother had taught me to sew. I understood seams and patterns and how Dumbo’s legs were connected to his body. I became deft at taking a razor and neatly opening the seam across Dumbo’s bottom. Then I’d carefully remove all his stuffing and give him a good washing in the sink and hang him by his ears on the laundry line in the yard to dry. A day in the sun and he’d be ready for me to replace his stuffing and carefully hand-stitch him back together. He looked almost like new and smelled good too!
What did that gift mean to me? Whether it came from Santa or my mother, I don’t know. I felt like it came from God. It was special and loveable, and therefore I must be special and loveable too. Dumbo was small and didn’t think much of himself. He also had big ears. But he learned that when he believed in himself he could exhibit extraordinary talent. That inspired me. I was so grateful for the gift of Dumbo, for having him to love, and for how his presence blessed my heart and nurtured my self-esteem.
So ask yourself the same questions this season: What was my favorite childhood Christmas present? What did it mean to me? What blessing did it bestow?