December 22, 2009

The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Six years ago I received the best Christmas gift ever.

When my children were little I was relegated, as most moms are, to drive a minivan. Ours was a green one that transported my kids, their stuff, their friends, their friends’ stuff, a week’s worth of groceries and the family dog—all at the same time. As practical as it was, I hated the thing. Not just that car in particular. I hated minivans. They weren’t me. Not then, not ever.

What I wanted was a lime green punch buggy with a stick shift and a sun roof. I dreamed about having one. I pointed them out every time I saw one: “Look, there goes someone driving away in my car!”  The kids and I “punched” each other whenever we spied one. And as the kids got older, I weaved my longing into their spelling homework. No matter what the word, I could interject my heart’s desire into it:

·         Path: It is much easier to find the path while driving a punch buggy.
·         Leg: I banged my leg on my mom’s lime green punch buggy.
·         Summer: This summer my mom opened the roof in her lime green punch buggy.
·         Petunia: My mom fit a whole flat of petunias in the back of her punch buggy.

You get the picture. In time my kids started to ask their dad for help with their homework.

This went on for years, until my oldest was out of a car seat and my youngest was in a booster seat. While still impractical, owning a VW Beetle was finally a remote possibility. Christmas was coming and I dropped hints like mad, hoping Dan might catch on. One day he’d had enough and told me to knock it off.

Still, I didn’t give up hope. Christmas morning came and I peered outside to see if Santa had left a lime green something parked in the driveway. To my disappointment, the driveway was empty. I peaked into the garage. Nothing in there either. Oh well, it was a crazy thought anyway. I set my hope aside and happily rejoined the festivities with my family.

While enjoying our breakfast, Dan feigned surprise and produced one more present for me. (We always save the biggest presents for last and act like it was a big Santa oversight.) I removed the wrapping to find a velvety jewelry box. It obviously didn’t hold a car and I was a little disappointed. I’m not an expensive jewelry kind of person, so I couldn’t imagine what was inside.

I opened the box. A note taped inside the lid read, “Be still…” Nested inside was another velvety box.

Intrigued, I opened the second box. On its lid another note read, “…and know that I…” Nested inside was a third box.

My curiosity was piqued. I slowly opened the third box. The final note read, “…am driving a punch buggy.” Inside that box was a key. A VW key.

I started screaming…and laughing…and crying! The kids had no idea what was in the box and wondered, with some fear, why their mom was losing it. I ran to the front door and flung it open. There in our driveway sat a lime green punch buggy with a sun roof and a stick shift…and a big red bow on top of it! Just like the commercials.

I was in shock!

Completely without my knowledge, Dan had found the exact car I wanted, purchased it and arranged for our neighbor to hide it in his garage…and then drive it over when he got the “signal.” I told Dan he never had to buy me another present again. Ever!
Punch buggy in hiding

It’s been six years since that Christmas and I still love my car! I still feel giddy when I realize it’s mine. And I’m still blown away by my husband’s extravagant gesture of love.

It reminds me of God’s extravagant gesture of love for us. With the coming of Jesus…Emmanuel…God with us…we’ve received the best Christmas gift ever. Lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. God’s plan for all of humanity realized. Because He loved us.

With Jesus’ life, and then death on the cross, He bridged the gap of sin that forever separated us from God. This gift of grace is so amazing our minds can scarcely conceive or fathom its true meaning.

But God doesn’t want us to analyze the gift, question our worthiness of receiving it or worst of all, reject it.

Imagine if I refused Dan’s gift to me? Or if I let it sit in the garage unused? Or if I spent all my time trying to figure out how the car works? Or if I neglected it? Obviously he’d be hurt. Dan gave me that present because he loves me and wants me to enjoy that little car to its fullest. Doing so brings him joy.

He wants us to do the same—to accept it, to experience it, to be transformed by it and to tell others about it—with joy and thanksgiving!

As much as I love my lime green punch buggy, nothing compares to God sending us the babe in a manger. He’s our true heart’s desire. I am still giddy when I realize the gift of salvation is mine. And I am blown away by God’s incomparable act of love.

He did it for me. And He did it for you, too!

Merry Christmas! I pray that you and your families experience a joyous, wondrous and blessed Christmas.


Kelly said...

I once hoped for a cream version of that same car! :)

What a great story and a great message, too. God's love for me (us) is the best gift ever, you're right.

Merry Christmas, Kelli!!!

Susan S said...

Amen, sister! My next car will a about 15 years. I will save your blog and replace punch buggy with "Mustang" and see if it works on my hubby! Until then I'll just tape a flower to my minivan's dashboard.
Blessed New Year!

Cheryl Barker said...

Love how Dan surprised you -- that's half the fun, huh? What a great memory! You guys have a wonderful Christmas!

Sassy Granny ... said...

Extravagant love. What a beautiful work-portrait of hubby's gesture; and an equally compelling word-portrait when associated with God's gift to us.

I pray you and yours have an unequaled Christmas. May it be the gateway to even greater things in 2010.


Sue J. said...

You have talked about this in various places before, but I still got totally choked up as if I were opening the box right along with you. (Sniff....Nice writing...honk! Punch!!)

There really isn't anything greater that God can give us, and I know I stand before that manger wondering, yet, what I can give. Our Praise Team shared Mercy Me's "God with Us" in our Christmas program--"Such a tiny offering
compared to Calvary; nevertheless,
we lay it at Your feet." Whatever we have, there is still nothing that compares with the gift of a Savior!

You all have a lot to look back and reflect upon in 2009, and I know you will cherish these things this season. As a faraway friend reading, I am so grateful for all that you have shared with us this year, and for your heartfelt writing that allows for us to focus on some things we may be missing in this life. Thank you for your offering!

(And for letting Dan comment every now and again....)

Merry Christmas!

apowers said...

Now when I see you in your car I will have an even bigger smile!!

Terri Tiffany said...

I love the picture and I love the story! Your husband is so cool to have done this for you!!
Praying your holiday is terrific like that one was!!

Kelly Combs said...

What a great story. And I got to see the car in person! Woo! I feel so honored.

Hope you had another wonderful Christmas this year. Am thankful for that greatest gift of all (not the punch buggy) that God gave us: His Son.

Merry Christmas!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Thank God for the gift of his Son, Jesus. All I got this year were gel pens and chocolates!

God always gives better, and thus, I found a smile or two of grateful pause on Christmas morning.