In first grade, our teacher asked us to write a letter to Santa for Christmas.

She asked us, “Name a gift that you would like Santa to bring you for Christmas.”

Then we were to write a letter to Santa, who she claimed lived at the North Pole, and tell him what we wanted for Christmas and why we wanted it. Then we put it in an envelope and she mailed it to the North Pole.

At the time, I thought my teacher had a connection to Santa Claus. She said so many nice things about him that she must have known him personally. Consequently, I thought that a letter my teacher gave him would have credit.

The other night the kind lady of the parsonage and I were sitting drinking hot chocolate and thinking about Christmas. She had just put up the Christmas tree with all the decorations. He does such a wonderful job that I let him do it.

In fact, one year I tried to help her and it was a disaster to say the least. Since then, I have to look and search and that’s it. Christmas decorations are wonderful and create a Christmas spirit.

While admiring the Christmas decorations, I mentioned the first grade letter to Santa. I casually said, “I guess Santa never got my letter.”

Looking at me, he said, “Why do you say that?”

I chuckled and said, “I never got a pony for Christmas.”

Together we laughed and then she said something that made me pause. “Do you want a pony for Christmas this year?”

From the way he looked at me when he asked that question, I thought he was serious. It gave me a bit of a pause because what the hell would I do with a pony now?

So, I’m not one of those who let a situation go by without playing it all it’s worth.

With a very serious look on my face, I said, “I sure would love to have a pony this year. It would make my Christmas just wonderful.”

“Well,” he said quite sarcastically, “you’ll have to send me a letter if you want that pony this year.”

After a few moments of silence, we both burst out laughing.

Where in the world would we put a pony in the parsonage? What the hell would he do with the pony in the parsonage?

Actually, he hadn’t thought about that letter to Santa for a long time. It’s amazing what you do when you’re young and then years later, for some reason, you remember it.

Then, in the midst of all this reflection, my wife asked me a question that I’m still not sure about.

“Okay, what do you really want for Christmas this year?”

I can think of many things. Pens, books, and pocket knives to add to my collection. I can never get enough of these things. But is that what I really want for Christmas this year?

Reflecting on the question, I couldn’t find a serious answer.

To try to take her by surprise, I said, “First, tell me what you would like for Christmas this year.”

I thought you would give me a well-documented list of gifts you would like for Christmas. She is so organized in everything she does that I was pretty sure she was organized in this area as well.

My problem with buying her Christmas presents is that I don’t know what she would like. It has everything you want and can use. I can’t buy anything from you in the tools category because it’s unfamiliar territory for me.

I met this young lady when she was really young and, to this day, it would be difficult for me to get a gift for her that would really surprise her. We have different likes and dislikes, which makes us a very good team.

“Oh no,” he said abruptly. “You won’t get away with it. Before I tell you what I want for Christmas, you’ll have to tell me what you want for Christmas.”

If anyone knows how to corner me, it is the kind lady of the parsonage. They have put me in so many corners that there are none left in our house.

I honestly didn’t know what to say to him. Then, to my surprise, a wonderful thought began to dance in my skull. He danced so much that it made me think. I came up with a special Christmas present for this year that I knew she couldn’t contradict.

“After thinking about it a lot,” I said very seriously, “what I want for Christmas this year is another year to live with you.”

Needless to say, she had nothing to say about it. Very seldom can I say something that will silence her.

I remembered what the apostle Paul said. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the sharing of his sufferings, being done according to his death” (Philippians 3:10).

The most important thing in the Christian life is not what God gives you, but what he himself gives you. Relationships are much more important than possessions.

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